Product safety and quality
Average read time: 4 minutes
Consumers trust us to provide them and their families with high-quality products. We design and manufacture our products so they’re safe for their intended use.
Our Product Safety & Product Quality Code Policy (PDF 137KB) Opens in new window sets out our commitments to Responsible Innovation. This means providing branded products and services that are safe and high quality, and innovating based on sound science.
We also have mandatory policies and standards in place to ensure that we meet our safety and quality commitments.
Our long-established Safety & Environmental Assurance Centre (SEAC) works with teams across Unilever to assess the safety and environmental sustainability of our products. The Centre also evaluates the processes used to manufacture our products.
As part of our Responsible Innovation approach, we design safety and sustainability into our products and manufacturing processes using the best science available.
Striving for continual improvements
We want to be able to proactively address any potential product safety or quality issues. So we monitor and track consumer and customer feedback.
Sometimes mistakes can be made in the end-to-end value chain. A product might, for example, have a quality defect. Or there may be a contamination of the raw materials, or a mislabelling of ingredients.
If this happens, protecting consumers’ safety is our number one priority. When necessary, we will recall such products from the marketplace.
We track the number of our product incidents globally. We classify them into those that could potentially impact consumers’ safety, and incidents that could potentially seriously impact product quality.
Wherever and whenever mistakes occur, we investigate them fully. We identify the root cause and send a ‘lessons learned’ document throughout the value chain to prevent a recurrence.
70% Reduction in marketplace incidents
We set annual targets to reduce the number of these incidents. Our quality improvement programmes cover all aspects of our value chain (suppliers, manufacturing, route to market). We also improve the way we track and respond to consumer feedback.
As a result of this approach, we have reduced the number of marketplace incidents by more than 70% over the last five years.
Sharing our knowledge with others
We don’t keep our knowledge to ourselves.
We share our safety research with the global scientific community through Unilever’s SEAC safety sciences in the 21st century Opens in new window website. SEAC also engages on a wide number of issues such as animal testing, plastic packaging and the ingredients we use .
We work with external organisations and authorities to develop more rigorous product vulnerability risk assessments. And we develop counter measure programmes that will help prevent malicious or economically motivated adulteration.
As well as conducting our own pioneering scientific research, we work closely with leading authorities around the world – including regulators, government scientists and academic experts. This ensures we’re always using the most up-to-date science within our safety and environmental sustainability assessments.
Focus on quality
As well as ensuring we have robust improvement programmes in place internally, we recognise the importance of external quality and/or product safety certification. This helps to provide an additional layer of assurance.
Did you know?
Our Foods and Refreshment sites are certified to FSSC 22000 (a Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) benchmarked standard).
Many of our Home Care and Beauty & Personal Care sites are externally certified to relevant quality and/or product safety standards. (These depend on the type of product being supplied).
We also have a programme in place to extend external certification to our remaining sites in future.
We are committed to ensuring that we have the right quality capability for the business, not only for today but also for the future. We use our internal ‘Quality Business School’ to enable our employees to build deep quality expertise as well as to develop key business skills – and thus ensure we deliver high-quality, safe and sustainable products every single day to our consumers.
Listening to consumers, acting fast
We want to know what consumers think of our products – the good and the bad. What they struggle with, what they are hooked on, how they’d like things to change and where we can make a difference for them.
By listening to the ‘digital voice of the consumer’, we’re constantly reviewing the feedback people kindly provide on our brands. We do this, for example, through our consumer engagement centres, product ratings and reviews on social media and then we act fast. For example, our Turkish customers told us they didn’t like the smell of our Domestos bleach so we launched a new variant with a softer, less chemical smell.