Our MD, Vince Shiers, looks back at 2019 and ahead to recall in 2020

What does RQA do?

Image of Vince ShiersAt family get togethers and dinner parties, I am often asked what RQA Group does.  My simple answer is that we help companies to prepare for and prevent a crisis and we also advise them when they face a recall.  The reply I often get is, “Wow, you must be busy!” We certainly are busy, and importantly it is also enjoyable and satisfying work.  Of course, product recall is only a part of what we do, considering our wider work including business continuity, crisis management, insurance risk engineering, supply chain risk management, counterfeit investigation, foreign body assessments, product liability and crisis communications work.

In 2019 we worked across 6 continents (no business in Antarctica yet!) advising companies on risk management, product recall prevention and recall incident support; including some major high-profile cases. We trained recall and crisis teams, delivered crisis exercises, audited suppliers, risk assessed product safety issues, advised on crisis strategy, managed crisis comms for major incidents, removed products from stores, arranged product destruction and much more.

If you are a client, we very much appreciate your business.  If you are not, please contact us to see how we can help.  We pride ourselves on our responsiveness, quality, expertise, broad capabilities and geographic reach, so give us a try contact@rqa-group.com, +44(0)118 935 7242.

Best wishes to you all for 2020.

Vince Shiers Ph.D., Managing Director, RQA Group

Recall numbers going down in 2020?

There are some signs that the number of product recalls may have peaked.  In the UK, the number of Food Standards Agency recall and allergy alerts in 2019 was similar to the number in 2018, although there were more EU Food alerts in 2019 than 2018.  In 2019, the EU Consumer Products Safety Gate (formerly RAPEX) alert system reported the lowest number of non-food alerts since 2011.  There were also fewer serious risk alerts with consumer products in the EU than 2018.  The number of food recall events reported by the US FDA has been decreasing since 2017.  The number of non-food consumer product recalls reported by the US CPSC was lower in 2019 than in 2018.

Of course, the number of recalls in previous years do not determine the number in 2020, but we may be seeing an end to the increases seen earlier in the past decade.  With focused effort it is possible to decrease these numbers further to ensure more products placed on the market are completely safe.

Recalls that shouldn’t happen – “Never Events”

Having been directly involved in product recall cases during my 17 years at RQA, I have looked for trends and insight into why products are recalled, or even how they sometimes get to the market at all.  During 2019 I have become increasingly frustrated that product recalls were happening that never should.  It is alarming to see the number of recalls due to the wrong label being used on a food product.  Sometimes these just misrepresent what product is in the packaging, but in many cases, there will be allergen mislabelling that represents a serious health risk.  I have classified these serious cases as “Never Events”.  We are not just talking about one or two recalls.  In the UK, over 40 (around half of all the allergy alerts) issued between June and December 2019 could be classed as “Never Events”.  In the US, during the same time period, almost 20% of recalls reported (over 50) by the FDA could be “Never Events”.   Given the seriousness of the adverse health effects, not to mention the significant financial cost of product recall and the reputational damage, something must be done to reduce the occurrence of these Never Event recalls.  I wrote an article in June 2019 defining “Never Events” in food manufacturing and outlining 12 steps to implement a “Never Event” principle in the business. We will continue to post updates on “Never Event” recalls during 2020.  Click here to download the article.

Read our 2019 articles


During the year, our consultants have written several articles to reflect current issues related to product recall and crisis management around the world.  These topics are discussed internally in our editorial group and then written by specialists within our team.  We hope that you have found them useful and informative: