Recall alert - A message for all

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По Eunsook Moon
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You pour really hot water into a glass recipient and it explodes. You plug in your phone and a faulty wire causes a fire. Errors during the manufacturing process or differences in regulations can result in products that need to be taken off the market or risk endangering consumers. As more and more goods produced elsewhere find their way to local shelves, it is important that countries can harmonize procedures and share recall information in order to protect consumers everywhere.
To support countries’ efforts towards achieving this goal, ISO has just published a standard to help organizations follow harmonized best practice in product recall situations.

ISO 10393:2013, Consumer product recall – Guidelines for suppliers:

  • Aligns recall practices worldwide
  • Provides one global language for product recall communication
  • Establishes one set of behaviour guidelines for developed and developing countries alike
  • Protects consumers

The standard offers practical guidance to suppliers on consumer product recalls and other corrective actions such as refunds, retrofit, repair, replacement, disposal and public notification. It provides information and other tools that suppliers of all sizes can use in developing a documented and validated product recall programme to:

  • Help them implement timely and cost-effective recalls
  • Minimize legal and reputation risks
  • Reduce health or safety risks to consumers

Primary motivator

ISO 10393 also helps companies dispose of their products in a safe and environmentally friendly way

ISO 10393 was developed by project committee ISO/PC 240, Product recall. Participants included a good mix of both developed and developing countries such as Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Japan, Malaysia, Russia and the USA. Efforts were made to harmonize this work with other ISO committees developing product safety standards, including ISO/PC 243, Consumer product safety, and ISO/PC 246, Anticounterfeiting tools.

From the beginning, the primary motivating factor was global consumer protection. We were well aware of the expansion of local businesses into the global marketplace, and the significant competitive advantage that compliance with International Standards can offer entrepreneurs. We need international guidelines that every type of business in every country can implement and follow.

Four key features

Four key features of ISO 10393 underline its practicality and effectiveness:

  • It applies to all consumer products except foodstuffs, drugs and cars, and respects local jurisdiction to avoid any conflict with local laws and standards
  • Together with ISO 10377, Consumer product safety – Guidelines for suppliers, it offers manufacturers a road map to follow from design to disposal, or from pre-market to post-market (see Figure 1)
  • It unifies related standards existing in many countries into a single set of global standards guidelines
  • It brings together current global best practices to provide the leading and most up-to-date guidelines

ISO 10393 provides guidelines for everyone, whether in developed or developing countries, and helps competitiveness by offering a road map for manufacturers to follow.

Product safety can now be “ designed in ”, right from the product planning stage. If there is a safety issue, manufacturers will be able to refer to the guidelines before commencing product recalls. Moreover, the standard will promote consistency in procedures, so if the safety issue occurred in a different country the same guidelines apply everywhere. ISO 10393 also helps companies dispose of their products in a safe and environmentally friendly way.

Impact of ISO 10393

The new standard provides three main benefits:

  • Saves time and money with uniform standards and procedures
  • Helps organizations maintain brand credibility in case of product safety issues
  • Improves international relations among trading countries

We need international guidelines that every type of business in every country can follow.

ISO 10393 will help manufacturers handle product recalls at local, regional and global levels. The new standard enables greater harmony by providing a common product safety and recall manual. In turn, this will lead to harmonized standards of consumer protection in global trade. There will be one common language and one set of guidelines for product safety and recall behaviours, shared by all.

Beneficial effects

Going forward we expect to see changes in national standards as countries align with ISO 10393. This will happen because it is in the interests of manufacturers and policy makers to minimize the time and money spent on product safety and recall issues.

It will be a bit like having an insurance policy – those that follow the guidelines from product design to disposal can feel secure in the knowledge that everything has been done in accordance with a truly International Standard.

And finally, ISO 10393 will help reduce and resolve trading conflicts between countries.

The author

Dr. Eunsook Moon is Chair of ISO/PC 240, Product recall, and President of the Korean National Food Safety Information Service. She was commended for her work in consumer advocacy and for her contribution to consumer safety.

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Elizabeth Gasiorowski-Denis

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