Every manufactured product sold anywhere is subjected to mandatory quality control before being released to the public to ensure it is safe to use and functions properly. However, quality control can’t fully guarantee the safety of all products, which is where product recall comes into play.
A product recall is a request from a manufacturer to return one of their products after discovering defects or safety issues that may harm consumers. It’s a safety procedure that protects buyers from potential harm and manufacturers and sellers from legal action. When a recall is requested, both sold and unsold products should be returned to the manufacturer.
Product recalls happen every now and then globally. It’s a normal occurrence that affects both product makers and buyers, with various goods being its subject. You may have purchased an item that’s being recalled; that’s why you should be informed about them.
How product recalls work
A product is usually recalled because it has quality or safety problems that pose a risk to its consumers. A regulator or consumer watch group warrants recalls when they find that a product violates one or multiple safety standards. They each have policies that help determine whether a recall of certain goods from the market is necessary or not.
There are two types of product recalls, mandatory and voluntary. A voluntary product recall is launched by manufacturers once they’ve identified a product issue. On the other hand, a mandatory product recall is issued by a regulating body authorized by the law to oversee product safety and quality.
Although different, both recall types are just as serious. A voluntary recall also means that the manufacturer is working closely with a regulator to notify the public about a defect or safety issue as quickly as possible.
In terms of the recall’s time frame, most of them are determined on a case-to-case basis by the regulators using fact-specific factors. A manufacturer or any firm that doesn’t initiate or undertake a requested product recall may be punished by the law.
Product recall notice
When a product is recalled, a recall notice is published to broadcast the information publicly. It should contain all the necessary details that the public should know about the product and why it’s being recalled. It should also be publicized to reach everyone who may be affected by the unsafe product.
Here are the things that you should see in a product recall notice:
- Terms – A recall notice should have the word “recall” in the heading and text to make it clear to consumers what it is all about.
- Dates – The notice must indicate the date of its release or publication and the month and year the manufacture began and ended (if it has).
- Product description – It must include information that will enable consumers to identify the recalled product accurately and distinguish it from similar products. E.g., brand name and model as it was marketed, photograph, serial number, date code, tracking label, or product feature.
- Action description – A recall notice must clearly indicate the actions the manufacturer is taking concerning the product. Said actions may include but aren’t limited to requesting a return and providing a refund or replacement, repair, or stopping the sale and distribution of the product.
- Number of product units – A recall notice must state the approximate number of units covered by the recall, every unit manufactured, imported, and distributed in commerce.
- Product hazard description – A recall notice must contain a description of the actual or potential hazards of the product that warranted its recall. Consumers must understand the hazards based on their provided description and the risks associated with them. They can provide an example of the type of hazard or risk to do so.
- Recalling firm identification – The identification of the firm conducting the recall must also be in the notice. It must state whether the manufacturer, retailer, distributor, or regulator is doing the recall.
- Manufacturer identification – The notice must identify the recalled product’s manufacturer and country of origin. In the U.S., the product manufacturer includes the importer as defined by law.
- Significant retailers identification – The notice must also include all significant retailers of the recalled product. Under the definition of U.S. law, a retailer of a recalled product is significant if it was its exclusive retailer, an importer of the product, or has nationwide and regionally-located stores, or if it sold or held a significant number of the product.
- Price – The recalled product’s retail price or price range should also be included in the notice.
- Descriptions of injuries, incidents, and deaths – The notice should also include a concise summary of all incidents, injuries, and deaths associated with the recalled product. This includes information about said incidents, injuries, and deaths associated with the products.
- Remedy description – A readily understandable description of remedies for consumers harmed by the recalled product should also be in the recall notice. It should contain each available remedy to consumers for the reasons that gave rise to the recall. In addition, it should also have all specific actions consumers must take to obtain each remedy and the information they need to do so.
There’s no specific media that a firm must use to publish the recall notice. Each regulator has its guidelines regarding proposed communications of recall notices. A press release is usually the initial step most firms take either independently or with a regulator to publicize it.
Regulators responsible for product recalls
There are different regulating bodies worldwide that are in charge of managing consumer products. In the U.S., the Consumer Safety and Product Commission (CSPC) is an independent agency tasked to protect the public “against unreasonable risks of injuries associated with consumer products.”
There are also agencies that cover specific products, such as cars, tires, food, medication, and cosmetics. For example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) upholds food products and medication quality and safety standards.
Sources of product recall information
While recall notices are commonly publicized widely to reach as many consumers that may be affected by an unsafe product, there are still those who aren’t aware of them. Even in this day and age where information is much more accessible with the internet, not every individual targeted by recall notices receives it. Product recalls also happen often, so you may have purchased or are still using a recalled product without you knowing about the notice.
It’d be better to know where to find product recall notices and get the information straight from reliable sources. Here are some sources where you can find recent product recalls:
- Recalls.gov is a website that posts recall news for consumer products, vehicles, food, medications, cosmetics, & environmental products.
- cpsc.gov/Recalls is the recall page of the CPSC website where you can read recall notices listed from the most recent to older ones. Besides that, you can also subscribe to their email alerts so you’ll be notified of new recalls.
- Safecar.gov is a website that posts safety information regarding vehicles and their parts and equipment, including product recalls.
- FDA.gov is the center of information regarding food product recalls, medicine, cosmetics, medical devices, pet foods, and veterinary drugs.
- Recall notices posted in retail stores that you can often find near or behind the register.
- The manufacturer will contact you via email or phone call.
- News articles online or sometimes the recall notice will be announced on TV or radio.
- Consumer watch group websites like Consider The Consumer
It’s essential to know product recalls because they contain what you need to do if you own a recalled product.
Acting on a recall
The first thing you need to do is confirm whether the subject of the recall notice is indeed the product you own. Go over the details such as model numbers, date code, and serial number to determine if your product matches the one being recalled.
Once you’ve confirmed it, you have to stop using the product. Even if it appears to be safe or functioning as intended, you must heed the recall notice. If it’s food, medication, or cosmetics, immediate stoppage of consumption is generally the right response.
You should go over the recall notice for specifics because it contains guidelines on what you need to do with the product. The notice will say whether to throw the product away to avoid reselling or reusing it or return it to where you bought it. Depending on the product type, the recall may also instruct you to disassemble or cut off its power source.
The recall notice will also contain your rights to a refund or replacement. Whichever one you should be awarded depends on the product’s fault.
If the recalled product’s fault can be easily repaired or the retailer offered prompt repair covering its costs, you can’t claim a full refund or replacement. However, if the fault makes it unsafe to use and is too difficult to correct, then you have the right to reject the product and claim a replacement or refund.
If you or someone you know has been harmed by any product, you can file an incident report. You can do so via SaferProducts.gov, and from there, it’ll be sent to the product’s manufacturer. The CPSC will then document your report and may or may not conduct an investigation on it.
An individual report about an unsafe product may not warrant a recall investigation, but it may encourage other consumers to do the same. Then, there’ll be enough to call for a said investigation that may lead to a recall.
Editor’s Note on Product Recalls:
Product recalls help inform consumers and protect them from hazardous products. Report a defective product that you think should be recalled to protect yourself and other people.
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