Recalls Up 8% in Q1 as Regulators Ramp Up Product Safety Oversight

Amidst heightened regulatory scrutiny and consumer vigilance, U.S. product recalls surged to a five-year high in Q1 2024, according to Sedgwick
By: | May 17, 2024
Topics: News
product recalls

U.S. product recalls reached a five-year high in the first quarter of 2024, according to the first-quarter U.S. Recall Index report from Sedgwick. The report found recalls increased 8% quarter-over-quarter to 909 events across five key industries, amidst stricter regulatory oversight and heightened consumer scrutiny.

“Regulators have started off 2024 as expected, continuing the high rate of enforcement activity and introducing new regulations and rules to improve product safety amidst an ever-growing list of risks,” said Chris Harvey, senior vice president of brand protection for Sedgwick.

Product Recall Trends in Q1 2024

While most sectors experienced an uptick in recall events compared to the previous quarter, many saw a significant decrease in the number of defective units impacted, the report noted.

In the automotive industry, recalls rose 9.2% quarter-over-quarter to 262 events. However, the number of vehicles affected dropped 15.2% to 12.5 million in the first quarter compared with 14.7 million in Q4 2023. Electrical system issues remained the top cause of auto recalls for the fifth straight quarter, according to Sedgwick.

Consumer product recalls climbed 5.7% to 92 events in Q1, though units impacted plunged 71.8% to 23.4 million. Sedgwick noted that Q4 was a six-year peak for the number of units affected in consumer product recalls.

The food and beverage sector had 27.6% more Food and Drug Administration recalls, with 134 events, over half of which were due to undeclared allergens. FDA food recalls fell 31.6% to just 13 in the first quarter.

Medical device recalls surged 13.8% to 296 events, the second-highest quarterly total in more than five years. But total units recalled were cut in half, dropping 51.2% to 53.4 million devices.

The pharmaceutical industry was the only one to see a decrease in recall events, which fell 14.5% to 112 in Q1. Recalled drug units were also down 46.3% to 9.3 million.

Industry Challenges in 2024

  • Automotive: The automotive industry will confront numerous challenges in 2024 as regulators push to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles (EVs) while balancing the shifting consumer demand for gas-powered and hybrid vehicles, Sedgwick noted.
  • Consumer products: Companies can expect more aggressive actions from both the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) throughout 2024, the report forecast. The $16 million in fines levied by the CPSC in Q1 suggests the possibility of 2024 exceeding the record $55.3 million fines of 2023.
  • Food and drink: In 2024, the FDA, USDA, and FTC are developing measures to keep consumers safe and provide them with more accurate information about the food they are buying. Expect a strong focus from regulators on consumer protection and transparency in the food and beverage sector, Sedgwick said.
  • Medical devices: Companies are facing several potentially onerous new regulations that will begin to take effect throughout the year, the report stated. These include new regulations on quality management, laboratory tests and marketing authorization.
  • Pharmaceuticals: The FDA is working on product-specific rules for benzene, marijuana, and other items, the report noted. The federal agency also has focused on drug shortages.

To view the full report, visit Sedgwick’s website. &

The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected].

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