Product Safety and Quality
Consumers trust us to provide them and their families with safe and high-quality products. All of our products are designed and manufactured to be safe for their intended use.
We have mandatory policies and standards in place to ensure we meet our safety and quality commitments. Safety and product quality are an integral part of our product design.
Our Code of Business Principles (PDF | 137KB) sets out our commitments to Responsible Innovation, providing branded products and services that are safe, and to innovate based on sound science. We have mandatory policies and standards in place to ensure that we meet these commitments. Safety and product quality are an important and integral part of our product design.
Unilever’s long-established Safety & Environmental Assurance Centre (SEAC) works with teams across the company to assess the safety and environmental sustainability of our products, and the processes used to manufacture them. As part of our Responsible Innovation approach, we design safety and sustainability into our products and manufacturing processes using the best science available. SEAC’s Safety Science in the 21st Century website enables us to share our safety research with the global scientific community.
We monitor and track consumer and customer feedback to proactively address potential product quality or safety issues. Sometimes mistakes can be made in the end to end value chain that potentially impact product safety or product quality. A product might, for example, have a quality defect or a contamination of the raw materials or a mis-labelling of ingredients. If this happens, protecting consumers' safety is our number one priority and when it is necessary, we will recall such products from the marketplace.
We track the number of product incidents we have globally. Unilever classifies them into those that could potentially impact consumers’ safety and incidents that could potentially seriously impact product quality. Wherever and whenever these shortcomings occur we investigate them fully, identify the root cause and capture them within a ‘lessons learned’ document which is then deployed throughout the end to end value chain order to prevent a recurrence.
Each year we set targets to reduce the number of these incidents through targeted quality improvement programmes across all aspects of our value chain (suppliers, manufacturing, route to market) as well as by improving the way we track and respond to consumer feedback. As a result of this systematic approach, the number of marketplace incidents has reduced by more than 70% over the last 5 years.
Continued focus on quality
As well as ensuring we have robust improvement programs in place internally, we recognise the importance of external quality and/or product safety certification to provide an additional layer of assurance. Unilever’s Foods and Refreshment sites are certified to FSSC 22000 (a Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) benchmarked standard). Many of Unilever’s Home Care (HC) and Beauty & Personal Care (BPC) sites are also externally certified to relevant quality and/or product safety standards (depending on the type of product being supplied) – and we have a program in place to extend external certification to the remaining sites in future.
Our Safety and Environmental Assurance Centre (SEAC) engage on a wide number of concerns such as animal testing, plastic packaging and the ingredients we use. They work with external organisations and the authorities to develop more rigorous product vulnerability risk assessments and counter measure programmes that will help prevent malicious or economically motivated adulteration.
As well as conducting our own pioneering scientific research, we also work closely with leading authorities around the world including regulators, government scientists and academic experts. This collaboration ensures we are always using the most up to date scientific advances within our safety and environmental sustainability assessments.