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Recommendations for Recall Management

A recall team knows which tasks must be executed in the case of the product recall.

Risk, return, and recall management facilitate work when a product is directly exposed to an immediate hazard and a recall is required.

The longer a product recall lasts, the higher the associated costs. At the same time, the risk of claims arising from the product liability increases. In case of a recall, everything must be done quickly, but in an orderly manner. Whoever is only now thinking about competences, responsibilities and tasks loses valuable time.

Organising a recall team

Manufacturers should not plan the recall operation only when facing an emergency situation. A recall team established in the company knows which tasks have to be dealt with in the case of the product recall. Since these are very diverse, it is advisable to form an expert group from the following various operational functional areas:

  • Construction and design
  • Production
  • Manufacturing supervision, quality management and assurance
  • Purchase
  • Sales, marketing, customer service, public relations
  • Internal legal departments or external legal advice
  • Accounting, IT, warehouse management

Ensuring communication

Once the recall team has been formed, the communication of the team members should be institutionalised. A separate email distribution list has proved to be helpful. In-house, the team should be made known to other employees. In addition, suitable replacements should be provided for, in case a product recall has to take place when members of the recall team are not present.

In case of recall, it is important for the recall team to get to know the corporate communication channels and contact details of external partners at an early stage. In addition to local market surveillance and the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA), these may be contact persons in other organisations, such as sales partners, commercial customers, suppliers or professional associations.

Working out a recall plan

A recall plan is the individual strategy for the crisis. It defines the steps to be taken internally and externally in the event of recall. In particular, the tasks to be performed and the measures to be implemented in individual operating areas are recorded and described in detail:

Affected products

The recall team member of the sales organisation shall identify the products, product groups or batches affected by the recall. In order for this to function as smoothly as possible, manufacturers should check the possibilities of the traceability of their products (production codes, manufacturing data, other signatures) and, if necessary, improve them. This not only ensures that the affected products can be detected in a clean manner, but also prevents those who are not actually affected from being (necessarily) recalled preemptively due to information deficits.

Sales stop

Immediate sales stop of the affected product both in the area of the group's sales structures as well as in legally independent sales partners in Germany and abroad.

Information of the partners

Information of the contact partners in other organisations, for example commercial customers, suppliers, professional associations.

Information of the authorities

Information to the national market surveillance authorities and notification to the countries of distribution within the European Union (EU) provided that the product has been delivered there. It is advisable to make binding use of the recall form of BAuA and the EU Product Safety Business Alert Gateway in the company-internal recall management. Both links are available on this website.

Information to the public

Coordinated information of the product users about the relevant media, ie public and specialised press, the television and the radio. In addition, the company's website should contain a possible product recall and be easily identifiable. It is advisable to design appropriate pages already in the run-up, which can be switched online quickly in case of recall.

A recall plan is ideally customized precisely and individually to the appropriate company. For this reason, the general sample recall plans are not sufficient, but helpful, at least, when draw-ing up a specific plan. The European Commission provides a guide of this kind to download on its website.