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Recommendations for Recall Management

A recall team knows which tasks must be executed in case of a 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 product liability increases. In case of a recall, the appropriate measures must be implemented quickly, but properly. Whoever is only now thinking about competences, responsibilities and tasks loses valuable time.

Organising a recall team

Manufacturers should not plan recall operations only when facing an emergency recall situation. A preventively established recall team in the company knows which tasks have to be dealt with in case of a 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, communication of the team members should be institutionalised. A separate email distribution list has proved to be helpful. In-house, the team should be introduced 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 as well as 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 a crisis. It defines the steps to be taken internally and externally in the event of a 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 must 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, and/or 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

An 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 has to be arranged.

Information of the partners

Contact partners in other organisations, for example commercial customers, suppliers, professional associations have to be informed.

Information of the authorities

The national market surveillance authorities have to be informed, and the countries of distribution within the European Union (EU) should be notified, 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 via relevant media, i.e. public and specialised press, television and radio. In addition, the company's website should contain an easily identifiable product recall. It is advisable to design appropriate template 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 respective company. For this reason, general sample recall plans are not sufficient, but helpful, at least, when drawing up a specific plan. The European Commission provides such a guide to download on its website.