Christopher McGuire was sentenced this week for the deliberate contamination of Nurofen Plus which led to a major product recall last August. In the course of sentencing him, the Judge estimated that the total costs to Reckitt Benckiser, including “…recalling the product, destroying suspect stock, investigating the problem which you caused, returning new products to the market and handling the reputational damage…” was £2.4m. Whilst this figure may not seem an enormous amount for a multi-national company, it should be borne in mind that:
- This was small-scale contamination of a single product, which did not result in deaths or serious illness;
- The company was clearly not at fault; and
- The recall was handled very efficiently.
Clearly, it could have been much worse. Whilst product recalls remain a problem, it is interesting to note that so far this year there have been only 11 product recalls listed on the Food Standards Agency website, compared to 42 over the whole of last year. It’s still too early to say but, after several years of increases in the number of product recalls, maybe the trend is finally reversing.