Product recall systems in the UK are putting people’s lives at risk and there is a need for a complete overhaul, according to consumer group Which?
In a recent report, the group criticised the system for being disjointed, highlighting its lack of national oversight as a key issue stating that it uses an “ineffective local solution to tackle what is a national problem”.
The news follows numerous high-profile product recalls in recent weeks, including Tesco’s emergency recall of chicken salads thought to contain harmful bacteria, Primark’s recall of flip-flops thought to contain cancerous substances and today’s recall of numerous Mercedes diesel cars found to produce toxic emissions.
Which? is calling for a national body to be established to handle recall situations, as well as set up a single unified database for consumers to refer to “before there is further tragedy or loss of life”.
The problem has reportedly been exacerbated by local trading standards teams’ staff cut by 56 per cent in 2009.
“The product safety system simply isn’t fit for purpose and its over reliance on a local approach to a national problem poses grave risks to consumers,” Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith said.
“The government must now take urgent action and create a new national body that has all of the tools it needs to get unsafe products out of people’s homes.”
Local Government Association’s Safer and Stronger Communities chair Simon Blackburn added: “Council trading standards teams play a crucial role in removing unsafe products from sale, prosecuting irresponsible sellers and helping to keep communities safe.
“A new national database of product recalls should be supported by a major publicity campaign to help flag it up to consumers as a trusted one-stop site to check all electrical goods.
“Rather than a comprehensive overhaul, which is unnecessary, the product recall system needs realigning to best serve trading standards teams operating in local communities.”