(The Hill) — Companies doing business in the United States are on pace to recall a record number of products this year, adding to consumer headaches already exacerbated by disruptions to supply chains caused by the coronavirus pandemic and global shipping woes.
A new report from the insurance company Sedgwick found companies recalled more than 900 million product units, from cars and bicycles to children’s socks and smartwatches, in just the first three months of the year.
“That is the highest number of units in a single quarter in the past 10 years,” Chris Harvey, a senior vice president at Sedgwick, said in a webinar introducing the report.
Companies are on track to break through more than a billion units recalled for only the third time in the last decade.
Some of the recalls generate major headlines: A shutdown at a plant that makes baby formula has caused a national shortage, forcing the Biden administration to airlift in formula from Europe and Australia. The makers of Jif peanut butter recalled millions of units that might have been contaminated by salmonella.
Others are less widespread. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has recorded 120 product recalls already this year, including about 333,000 silicon pacifiers that pose a choking hazard, 3.7 million bottles of Airborne gummy vitamins that could explode when opened and about 89,000 Bluetooth-equipped helmets sold at Walmart.
Car and truck manufacturers recalled 221 types of vehicles for various problems in the first quarter, a figure that is lower than last year’s quarterly average. But the total number of vehicles impacted has more than doubled, to about 9.3 million. Fewer foods have been recalled, but the number of units impacted by recalls has more than quadrupled.
More than 435 million units of pharmaceutical products were recalled in the first quarter, a 15-year high.
U.S. regulators have increased enforcement activity over automotive, consumer product, food and beverage, pharmaceutical and medical device industries, the company said.
Sedgwick said it expected automakers to increase recalls due to new rules relating to autonomous and electric vehicles that are gaining market share. The company also highlighted new legislation banning the sale of crib bumpers, which could force additional recalls.
“While most business operations have adapted to the challenges associated with the ongoing pandemic, new challenges continue to emerge that put businesses at risk,” Harvey said in a statement.