Although most consumer products are tested for safety, no process is perfect. Unsafe products can and do make their way to market all the time. When these defective products are discovered, a recall is often issued. Sometimes product recalls make the news, but many do not. Knowing about product recalls can be vital to keeping yourself and your family safe. Otherwise, you could be using a product that has been proven dangerous without knowing. This brief guide will give and overview of product recalls and how to stay informed about them for your family’s safety.
What Are Product Recalls?
A recall is when a product is removed from the market because it has proven dangerous or because serious safety concerns are raised. Product recalls can affect any kind of consumer good from food to cars, and the recall process varies depending on the nature of the problem. In a typical recall, consumers are provided with compensation or a fix for the defective product.
Food recalls are commonly issued when evidence of harmful bacteria like salmonella or listeria is found. Some food recalls also happen because of undeclared allergens, such as nuts, eggs, or milk. These food safety concerns may be discovered through routine testing of products or when a member of the public gets sick or has an allergic reaction. In food recalls, the product is pulled from shelves and disposed of.
Recalls for other types of products typically only occur after one or several injuries are reported involving the product. There are two types of recalls for most consumer products. The first type of recall will simply ask consumers to return the defective product, and they will be compensated. The second type of recall is common in larger products, including cars. In this type of recall the manufacturer will replace the defective part to render the product safe.
Several government agencies oversee product recalls. Recalls can be voluntarily initiated by the manufacturer, but the government can also issue a mandatory recall if necessary. Some agencies that handle product recalls include the FDA, USDA, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
How Can I Stay Informed About Recalls?
The government agencies that oversee recalls have created a centralized website to provide information to the public regarding product recalls. Visit recalls.gov to review recent recalls or search for a particular recall if you have concerns about a product. You can also sign up for email alerts from several of the agencies that will inform you of new recalls. You can access more detailed information on recalls from each government agency through the central recalls website.
Other websites also report news of certain product recalls. Safe Kids Worldwide keeps track of recalls affecting child safety. They also have an email list. Good Housekeeping is another outlet that provides information on product recalls.
Local news is an excellent source of information about recalls that affect your city or state. Many people don’t take the time to watch TV news anymore, but most local stations also communicate via Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. Follow your local outlets to stay apprised of safety news in your area.
Another method is to set up a Google alert or an RSS feed keyword alert using common keywords. You could start with something simple like “product recall [your state]” or something similar. Google alerts are probably easier for those of us who are less tech savvy, but both work in a similar way by searching the internet for new content that includes your keywords.
While manufacturers may contact you directly for some product recalls, especially for cars, many consumer goods don’t have this kind of paper trail. That’s why it’s important to be aware of recalls and do your best to stay informed. Fortunately, the internet makes it easier than ever before to access this information and keep your family safe.