The United States is the world’s largest consumer market. American households spend around $60,000 per year, including approximately $8,000 on food, $5,000 on healthcare, $1,000 on personal care products, and $3,000 on non-essential items such as entertainment equipment and pet supplies, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
We assume that the products we purchase are safe, and most of them are. But thousands of defective or potentially harmful products are removed from the market each year. This is known as a recall.
Consumers have the right to know when—and why—recalls are issued so they can protect their loved ones, but the sheer volume of recalls can make it difficult to track them all. However, by speaking with an attorney, they can inform you of all the latest recalls that are occurring across the country and get you involved. If you believe that a product you have in your home is the subject of a recall, contact us today for more information.
We’ve put together this breakdown of where you can find the latest recalls.
How Products Are Regulated
Different government agencies have regulatory jurisdiction over consumer products. One of the biggest regulatory agencies, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is responsible for oversight of roughly $3 trillion worth of products. In addition to regulating about 80 percent of the food supply, the FDA oversees prescription drug products, cosmetics, medical devices, animal drug products, biologics, and tobacco products.
Other federal agencies that regulate consumer products are the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which has jurisdiction over many types of consumer products, from toys and kitchen items to ATVs and fireworks; the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which oversees cars, trucks, motorcycles, tires, and car seats; and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which regulates food products not under the FDA’s control.
Recall Severity and Frequency
Millions of consumer products are available on the U.S. market. Amazon alone sells more than 12 million items. The average grocery store carries 30,000 – 40,000 items. A Walmart Supercenter averages 142,000 different items.
Each year, thousands of items that Americans buy are deemed unsafe. Recall statistics by different agencies over the last six years (2015 – 2020) provide a snapshot of how common product recalls are:
- FDA Recalls: 7,000 – 9,000 per year
- CPSC Recalls: 250 – 350 per year
- NHTSA Recalls: 900 – 1,000 per year
- USDA Recalls: 100 – 150 per year
Often, product recalls are voluntary. In a voluntary recall, the manufacturer decides on its own to pull the product from the market. In other cases, an agency like the FDA or CPSC mandates a recall. Voluntary does not mean the same as optional. Consumer Reports points out that a voluntary recall can be just as serious as a mandatory recall.
The FDA classifies recalls as Class I, II, or III based on how likely the issue is to cause serious health problems. The USDA also uses three recall classes. Agencies such as the CPSC and NHTSA do not use a recall classification system. The CPSC says that it “announces recalls of products that present a significant risk to consumers, either because the product could contain a defect or because it violates a mandatory safety standard.”
Not every recall poses a serious safety threat. Many recalls are for issues unlikely to cause adverse health reactions, such as packaging or labeling issues. The majority of FDA recalls are Class II (the product might cause a temporary health problem, or pose a slight threat of a serious nature). USDA recalls tend to be the most serious Class I recalls (there is a reasonable probability that eating the food will cause health problems or death).
Regardless of the specific reason for the recall, recalled products should not be used. Depending on the terms of the recall, you might be eligible for a free replacement product, a refund, or a complimentary repair. If you have a medicine that was recalled, talk to your health care provider about their recommended actions for your health. They may advise you to return the product to the store where you purchased it.
Where to Find Out About Recalls
Once in a while, a product recall is so widespread, and so serious, that it appears on the news. But that is rare.
Other product recalls are announced in media outlets via press releases, or on a regulator’s website. Agencies are also taking advantage of social media and announcing recalls on their Twitter and Facebook pages. Finally, it’s possible that the FDA, the manufacturer, or the retailer that sold you the recalled item will contact you directly by phone, mail, or email.
If you want to be proactive about seeing if a medication or product has been recalled, here are some resources to check:
Recalls, market withdrawals, and safety alerts for FDA-regulated products are updated regularly on the FDA’s website. The agency notes, though, that not all recalls are announced on FDA.gov or in the news media. Follow U.S. FDA Recalls on Twitter for the latest recall news. Government and manufacturer recall notices are additionally posted on retailer websites like Walgreens and Rite Aid.
Consumer Product Recalls
Visit nhtsa.gov/recalls and plug in your vehicle’s VIN to see if there are any active recalls. Sign up for NHTSA email alerts and get inbox notifications when there is a safety problem with your vehicles, tires, or car seat.
- fda.gov lists food recalls for non-meat products, fruits, vegetables, seafood, shelled eggs, and infant formulas. Subscribe to FDA recalls.
- fsis.usda.gov lists meat, sausage, poultry, and processed egg product recalls. Subscribe to FSIS emails.
- foodsafety.gov publishes food recall information from the FDA and USDA, in addition to foodborne disease outbreak info from the CDC.
More Recall Information
Recalls.gov lists recalls from six federal agencies. You can browse the latest recall information on the site and sign up for direct email notifications from the CPSC, FDA, USDA, and NHTSA.
Morgan & Morgan hopes that the information on this page helps to keep you and your family safe. If you’ve been injured by a product or medication, and want to know your legal rights, please contact us for a free case review.