From faulty cars to dodgy cheese: The number of product recalls hits a record high

Kasmira Jefford
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Volkswagen began recalling cars involved in the emissions scandal this year (Source: Getty)

The number of products recalled after businesses discovered a health risk or a product flaw has soared to a record high, research out today shows.

Around 310 products ranging from cars to groceries were recalled in the 12 months to 31 October 2015 compared with 245 the previous year – a jump of 26 per cent, according to figures from City law firm RPC.

Motor vehicle recalls have surged on the back of a number of high-profile incidents including Volkswagen’s emission-rigging scandal, which affected 1.2m cars in the UK, as well as General Motors’ recall of thousands of vehicals due to defective ignition switches.

The company recently agreed to pay $900m (£626m) in criminal damages to settle the case and eventually called back 800,000 cars.

French carmaker Renault has also recently recalled 15,000 cars after questions were raised over emissions testing of its cars.

In total, the UK saw 39 different vehicle recalls last year, a 30 per cent rise on the previous year, RPC said.

Meanwhile the number of food and drink products taken off the shelves significantly increased last year to 84 compared with 56 in 2014 – a 50 per cent rise.

RPC partner Gavin Reese said 2013’s horsemeat scandal, when horse DNA was found in several products supplied to supermarkets, “set off reverberations across the food industry and now a couple of years on tighter measures and an increased scrutiny have clearly made a big difference”.

Figures collected by RPC ten years ago show that there was less than half the number of recalls at that time compared with today, with just 149 products recalled in 2004/5.

One of the biggest food recalls so far this year occurred last month when Mars withdrew a range of chocolate bars in 55 countries after plastic was traced in one of its Snickers bars.

Supermarkets Asda, the Co-operative and Sainsbury’s removed camembert from their shelves last month over fears that the cheese could be contaminated with listeria.

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