22nd September 2016

Product Recalls: Weird & Avoidable Cases

In light of Samsung’s explosive product recall disaster this month, we thought we’d explore some of the most bizarre product recalls in history.


The Bacterial Anti-Bac Gel

With increased awareness of germs and the spread of diseases, companies have been profiting a lot from selling anti-bacterial hand sanitiser.

Although there is a tonne of choice in terms of brands and scents etc., this product is essentially rubbing alcohol that contains a thickening agent. This makes it super cheap, easy to make and in constant demand. The ideal product, right?

But how do you stand out in a market saturated by so many competitors and so many similar products?

Clarcon Antimicrobial Hand Sanitizer thought they had the answer.

Their product was meant to be a “biorganic” alternative that contained no alcohol (so take note here, they wanted to leave out the very ingredient that does the job of cleaning your hands). This new product actually contained bacteria – think bacteria eating bacteria – to make it different. Labelled as antimicrobial, it was also marketed as an effective sanitiser to be used in open wounds.

Unfortunately, not only did it fail to contain the only microbe killing ingredient that was needed, it actually contained high levels of disease inducing and flesh eating bacteria. Some of the germs were dangerous enough to cause illnesses that required medical and even surgical attention in some cases.

So while the idea of a less chemical alternative to hand sanitiser was nice, removing the skin rather than cleaning it was deemed to be too extreme a measure.

There Is Such a Thing as Too Clean

In a similar vein, Persil made a huge faux pas in the 90s. Their washing powder was struggling against the competition. They had to clean up their act, so to speak, and create a cleaning product that was so effective that dirt would think twice before staining your clothes.

And so they created Persil Power. Unfortunately, not only did it remove stains, it made sure that ink, red wine and grass would never be able to stain anything again. It bleached and shredded clothes, destroying load upon load of clothes in households.

This mistake cost Persil around 250 million pounds in damages. Since, they have toned down their use of chemicals and are one of the most popular washing powder brands, so recovery is certainly possible.

The Pin Pricks of Irony

Born in a bid to protect children from dangerous toys, the Consumer Product Safety Commission is the US government group that is responsible for ensuring that dangerous products aren’t released into the global market.

Scrutinising others, however, left them somewhat blind in terms of constructive self-criticism in 1974, when they released 80,000 lapel pins that were meant to endorse toy safety. Unfortunately, these had to be recalled as they were found to contain high levels of lead, had sharp edges and presented a choking hazard.

It certainly feels like this one could have been avoided.

The Calm Before the… Fire?

Let’s set the scene: it’s Friday night, you’re exhausted from a long week at work and you’ve been absolutely relishing the opportunity to relax all week. You turn down drinks with colleagues, let your parents down gently about that dinner, and make your way home.

So here you are, finally running that lovely warm bath, delicious scented candle flickering, glass of wine in hand, soft music playing and ready to read that last chapter of your book. That’s right, heaven in your own bathroom.

Nothing quite sets panic back in your heart than said candle’s uncontrollable flame shattering its glass case and setting your towels on fire. In 2012, Bath Petals had to recall thousands of soy candles that were burning so hot that they caused explosions.

Learn From Their Mistakes

No matter how big the brand, no one is immune from making mistakes, even household names with huge PR departments to mitigate the damage and teams of quality assurance specialists.
If it can happen to them, it can happen to any company.

So be sure to get product recall insurance – as well as a trained loss assessor to help guide you. For more information on how we can help, please read our service page or contact us.

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