Product safety

Consumers trust us to provide them and their families with products that are safe and of good quality. All of our products and processes are designed to be safe for their intended consumer or customer end use.

Safety comes first

Our Code of Business Principles sets out our commitment to provide branded products and services which are safe for their intended use and to innovate on the basis of sound science, applying rigorous standards of product safety. The safe and sustainable design of our products and manufacturing processes is core to our approach to responsible innovation.

We have a long-established Safety & Environmental Assurance Centre (SEAC) which assures the safety and environmental sustainability of our products, and the processes used to manufacture them. See Consumer safety for more.

Sometimes a product that does not meet our high safety and quality standards is accidentally released into the market. Such a product might, for example, have a quality defect or a contamination of the raw materials or a mislabelling of ingredients. If this happens, protecting consumers' safety is our number one priority. If necessary, we will recall such products.

We track the number of product recalls we have globally. Unilever classifies them into incidents that could potentially impact product safety (A) and incidents that could potentially seriously impact product quality (B). In 2012 the total number of A and B incidents across our business worldwide totalled 24, a 27% reduction on 2011 (33) and a 62% reduction on 2010 (63).

The continued reduction of A and B incidents during 2012 was partly due to our renewed focus on quality as an integral part of our business agenda. We have been putting programmes in place to improve the rigour of our processes - from sourcing and manufacturing to customer and consumer satisfaction with our brands.

Some consumers are concerned about the presence of particular chemicals in our products. We continue to work in partnership with research organisations, industry partners, NGOs and regulators to strengthen consumer confidence in our products, and work with them to try and find alternative ingredients, where appropriate.