BASF recall – what the companies affected can do

The BASF recall campaign continues to make waves, and not only among the mattress manufacturers who have already taken delivery of goods. Other companies in the consumer goods industry and the automotive sector must also ask themselves whether and how a recall campaign is to be conducted optimally.


TDI (toluene diisocyanate) is mainly used for further processing into polyurethane, an elastic polymer. The applications of polyurethanes are so diverse that they can be used in almost any industry at all: “Like no other group of materials, the polyurethanes have an enormous range of properties from hard to soft and from cast to foam”, explains the Association for Foam Plastics and Polyurethanes (FSK) on its website. They are, for example, used in the manufacture of mattresses, but also in the production of car seats, upholstery and shoe soles. 

The BASF recall campaign

Between 25 August and 29 September 2017, according to BASF, a markedly increased concentration of dichlorobenzene (DCB) was detected in the production of TDI at BASF SE in Ludwigshafen. The contamination, it was said, was attributable to a technical defect in production and the cause was in the process of being eliminated. BASF said that it had informed some 50 affected customers and stopped deliveries of the product.

Meanwhile, BASF has given a kind of all-clear in a press release, albeit without any further explanation, though it is difficult to see how its contents really apply to the questions that are currently being asked. 

What must the manufacturers affected do now?

The companies affected should ask themselves the following questions: 

  • Have any contaminated products already made their way on to the market? 
  • If so, can we trace them?
  • Do we know what authorities we need to get in touch with?
  • Whose job is it to clear up issues with the insurance company?
  • How good is our communication with our customers?
  • Should we recall the products from the market, and when can we start supplying our customers again?

(Philipp Reusch, reuschlaw Legal Consultants).

[November 7th, 2017]