Understanding Recalls

Understanding Recalls

By Richard P. Console 

When a consumer product is manufactured there are specific, federal regulations in place to make sure they are safe for the public. This is true of all products from cars and tires to food to lamps-everything needs to be free of hazards before hitting the market. However, everyone makes mistakes and sometimes consumer products make it to store shelves and it is later discovered that they pose a significant risk and that is when a recall will be issued.

What is a recall? It is the removal of an unsafe product from the market. There are several ways a product can be recalled. One way is that the product needs to be fixed in some way or needs a replacement part. In these cases manufacturers will often send out kits to the consumers to remedy the hazard, or with more complicated fixes like those on a motor vehicle they will have a professional make the repairs at no cost to the consumer.

There are also times when the product needs to be completely removed because the hazard cannot be repaired. One example of this is when a medication is recalled, in these instances the product will need to be sent back to the manufacturer or disposed and then the consumer will get a replacement product. Take for example the recent birth control recalls by Pfizer. There was no way for the consumer to remedy the fact that the pills were mixed up, so consumers were instructed to return the medication to their pharmacy to receive the proper pills.

Who issues recalls? That depends on the product. Some names that may sound familiar are the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Most major recalls will be issued from the manufacturer along with one of the aforementioned entities. Other recalls can be issued through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (cars, tires, child safety seats), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (vehicle emissions, environmental products), and the Food Safety and Inspection Service (food).

One way to stay up to date on all recalls from the various government agencies is to visit Recalls.gov. On this site you will find all recent recalls. You can also sign up for email alerts so that you are contacted when a recall is issued. When it comes to major recalls, the media will typically report on them, but it is wise to keep informed on your own as well.

Accidents that stem from dangerous or defective products can leave you or someone in your family with significant injuries. Products should be safe for consumers, but sometimes problems slip through the cracks and result in injury.

Richard P. Console is the founding and managing partner of Console and Hollawell, one of the most highly regarded personal injury law firms in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

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