The number of product recalls across Europe have rocketed in the past year in the wake of tougher regulations and stricter enforcement.

In the first 10 months of 2007, the European Commission received 56% more consumer safety alerts from EU member states than in the same period in 2006, according to a report by law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

The introduction of the 2005 General Product Safety Regulations have been a major factor in the increased number of recalls, according to 'Getting it right: product recall in the EU', which was based on interviews with food safety executives at 100 multi-national companies operating in the EU.

"Open a newspaper published in the past year and you will probably find a story about product safety," said John Davies, head of consumer products and retail sector practice.

As a result of the more stringent testing regime, Julian Graves and wholesaler Suma were this month forced to withdraw thousands of pounds of goods after identifying salmonella contamination.

Recalling products once they had reached the shelf had become more common than intended, said the report, citing the product safety directive statement that recalls should be used only as a 'last resort'.

"Explanations for this overuse may include a desire to show the business has done everything possible to reduce the effects of the safety issue," it said.