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Figures released by RAPEX, the European Commission’s rapid alert system for product notifications, show a significant increase in recall of cosmetic and personal care products: 124 in 2016 compared to 76 in 2015.

RAPEX, and our 2016 RAPEX Recalls report, enable retailers to source or produce better products, by understanding the root causes of product alters, the product categories and their countries of origin.

Most Recalled

The five most recalled CPCH product categories in 2016 were:

  1. Bath/body wash, skin cleansing (18)
  2. Incense sticks and other scents (13)
  3. Skin-lightening products, cream (13)
  4. Tattoo inks (10)
  5. Hair dyes/colorings (9)

Common Causes

In 2016, chemical and microbiology issues were the most common reasons for recall, accounting for 117 of last year’s 124 product recalls. The next most common issues were health risks, choking and burns.

Recalls of Substance

In the report, it is possible to highlight those substances that were the most frequently implicated in the recalls. They included:

  • Preservatives (paraben, MI/MCI)
  • Phthalates
  • Heavy metals
  • Formaldehyde
  • PAHs
  • Hydroquinone

Labeling Causes Concern

According to the figures for 2016, some nine CPCH products were recalled for issues directly relating to their labeling. In a number of cases, either allergens were not indicated in the list of ingredients or the labeling was not compliant with the requirements of the relevant regulation. These issues arose in both cosmetics and detergents.

Another reason for recalling products was that it was mistaken for a foodstuff, such as bath soaps. There are strict requirements on the use of food images on packaging, for example, a fruit on a shampoo product must be small to avoid misleading consumers – especially children. The same applies when giving a product the form and color of a foodstuff. You must make sure that products comply with applicable regulations, for instance, by completing a labeling review with SGS.

Country of Origin

Reflecting a complex, global market, recalls for cosmetic and personal care products originate from a fairly broad group of countries. The United States tops the table with 22 recalls, followed by India (19), China (16), France (8), UK (6) and Poland, Germany and Greece with 5 recalls each.

Download the 2016 RAPEX Recalls report (PDF 841 KB) >

About SGS CPCH Services

It is crucial for all cosmetic, personal care and household products to be safe, effective and stable. SGS provides testing, inspection, auditing and consulting services to manufacturers, distributors and importers to ensure a high level of product quality in every area. The company also has extensive capabilities in performance testing, claim support studies and consumer panels. All testing is conducted according to customer specific or recognized standard methods, some of which were developed by SGS. The company’s cosmetic safety assessors and other technical experts can support customers by making sure new products comply with regulatory requirements.

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Carine Dumas
Sales engineer
Cosmetics, Personal Care and Household
t : +33 1 41 24 86 62


SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. SGS is recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 90,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 2,000 offices and laboratories around the world.