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Beko fridge freezer fires: should there be tougher penalties?

Fridge freezer

An inquest into a fire fatality has concluded that a Beko fridge freezer was at fault. It’s now been recommended that there should be tougher penalties for manufacturers that fail to recall faulty products.

Santosh Benjamin Muthiah, a 36-year-old father of two, died after a fire broke out in his home in north London in 2010. An inquest into his death has now concluded that it was caused by a defective defrost timer in his Beko fridge freezer.

As many as 500,000 fridge freezers made between 2000 and 2006 could be affected by the same problem. However, a recall wasn’t issued until after Mr Benjamin-Muthiah’s death in 2010, despite the court hearing that Beko had been aware of faults as early as 2003.

Recommendations on faulty product recalls

The coroner leading the inquest made a number of recommendations to ensure greater protection for product owners. These include:

• Stronger penalties for manufactures that fail to recall products, including a possible prison sentence.
• It being mandatory for appliances to carry flame-proof labelling so they can be identified after a fire.
• The creation of a government-funded website to record product recalls.

As it currently stands, manufacturers can be fined £5,000 for failing to notify authorities of faulty products. This compares to the average cost of recalling an appliance, which is £11m.

Beko fridge freezer owners comment

More than 400 comments were shared by Beko fridge freezer owners here on Which? Conversation. This includes Katherine, who commented last year:

‘On 20 July 2013 we were woken up at 3:30am, to the sound of our smoke alarms. My husband dashed out of bedroom and ran down stairs to discover that there was a fire in the utility room were the fridge freezer was located. We got our three children out of the house quickly and called for the fire services. They put out the blaze and soon confirmed that the fire started at the back of the fridge freezer.

‘Beko has since sent out an engineer and a forensic fire investigator who confirmed that the capacitor on the back of the fridge was the cause of the fire. It has been such a devastating experience for me and my family.’

We welcome the call for tougher penalties – your safety must be top priority, so manufacturers must act fast to recall products as soon as they realise they’re faulty. We also want the Government to do more to analyse and release the data held on appliance fires, and to put more pressure on manufactures to reduce the thousands of fires currently caused by faulty products.

Do you think there should be tougher penalties for manufacturers that fail to recall products after discovering a fault? Would you find a website that records all product-recalls useful?

Should there be tougher penalties for manufacturers that don't recall potentially dangerous faulty products?

Yes (98%, 986 Votes)

No (1%, 11 Votes)

Don't know (1%, 10 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,007

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If you own a Beko fridge freezer that’s more than seven years old, find advice on what to do in our Beko fridge freezer fire Q&A.


The directors of any company manufacturing products that kill people due to faults should be prosecuted. Only the threat of jail time will ensure that safety is put before profits.


Over half a million dishwashers made by Bosch have still not been accounted for: http://www.which.co.uk/news/2014/05/recalled-hotpoint-and-bosch-dishwashers-still-unaccounted-for-368967/ Some of them were branded Hotpoint but manufactured by Bosch.

We need to explore ways of ensuring that owners of recalled appliances can be contacted. Many are reluctant to register their products with the manufacturer because of the risk of their details being used for marketing.

Fires involving kitchen appliances are not uncommon. Fit smoke alarms in kitchens and utility rooms, never leave them unattended or running overnight except where this is essential, as with fridges and freezers.


Based on the comments on Which Conversations it would appear that Beko products have a large number of faults compared with other makes. I wonder why people buy Beko products.
I agree with Jay that the directors of companies should be prosecuted.


In my postings in 2013 here I suugested that at least Which? members who provided the basis of an accurate database of equipment that they owned could be contacted by Which? Of course they could also be the source of the warning on products as the database would show problem rates to number owned of a particular device.

Having a central database of faulty products/ recall notices would seem a very basic and obvious requirement however in my search a few weeks ago all I could find on a UK or EU level was products that were dangerous. There are a couple of defunctish websites offering recall information but whether you would feel safe using these I doubt. The sites that promise copies of lost operating manuals I regard as unsafe and in fact claim to provide manuals that they do not possess.

Until there is a proper product database in place, and if necessary all manufacturers should provide sales figure of each product to a central source so rate per thousand can be establshed, then the companies will be able to downplay and ignore problems.

I do think criminal liability for Directors is an excellent way to go particularly for the very large multi-nationals where fines area tax-loss and those that make the decisions are very high in the food chain and insulated from the flak.


Where deliberate action to conceal, or gross negligence in not correcting and reporting for recall, life-threatening defects can be proven then severe penalties should be imposed. However, it is rare that one individual will be responsible. So prison is not normally a useful option, unless you want token retribution. Mistakes in the past, whether in products, services (rail accidents for example), military or security services accidents, although tragic are rarely down to deliberate negligence on the part of one individual.
For commercial companies, widely publicising the incident and the failure of the company would, in my view, inflict damage on the companies trading to an extent that would be a deterrent – or an incentive to be more careful.
As dieseltaylor says, a database of significantly defective products would be sensible. For those who bother, it would guide them not only in products to avoid but possibly also brands to avoid. Which? could lead the way in giving consumers this kind of information?

Mrs E Westrap says:
4 October 2014

I have just bought a Beko Freezer on 29/9/14.The model is Beko FXF5075W FRFREEZ.
as it not due to be delivered until 12 November 2014′
and having just read your article on Beko due you know
if they are safe to use?I will see if I can cancel it otherwise.
I am a which subscriber.please advise me.


Companies occasionally have to recall products because they could be unsafe. The problem here is that Beko did not take prompt action when they were aware of faults.

The ‘Electrical Safety First’ website, allows you to search for recalled electrical products. Recalling a product can be very expensive and is bad for the reputation of the brand, so there may be other companies aware of faults but keeping quiet about them.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure you have a smoke detector in every room, especially where electrical appliances are left on unattended.


Good find wavechange. Thanks for that.