The majority of products sold in the United States have met minimum government safety standards, which are established by a variety of government agencies. Safety standards for most retail products are set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC); vehicles, tires, and car seats are regulated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA); and food, drugs and personal care products are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The legal community looks at product regulatory requirements as a “minimum requirement,” and expects manufacturers to ensure products will be safe and reliable for intended uses. But how do you, as a consumer, find out if a product meets the minimum government safety requirements.
On March 26, 2012, USA Today discussed last year’s annual report from Kids in Danger, detailing children’s product recalls in 2011. The report cited a 24% drop in children’s product recalls, but criticized the way product recall information was communicated to the public. Because of the vast retail and on-line market for consumer products, it can be challenging for a manufacturer or seller to identify purchasers when a problem with a product is uncovered or a product is recalled. It can be equally difficult for a consumer to determine if the car seat, toy, hedge trimmer or medicine they bought has become the subject of a safety recall. During the 14-day period from March 26, 2012 to April 9, 2012, there were safety recalls issued for: 20 vehicle-related products; 10 tire models; 5 child car seats; 4 child products, and 3 general household items. Most people have likely heard about one or two of these at most. If you are a consumer looking for ways to learn about product recalls, here are some suggestions:
- www.recalls.gov – lists the most recent product safety recalls for six participating government agencies, with links to the government sites for specific product information;
- the FDA, NHTSA, and CPSC each have email subscription lists that you can join that will email you recall alerts;
- www.consumerwatch.com has a twice per month Children’s Product Recall newsletter, which includes recall alerts, that you can subscribe to for free;
- www.saferproducts.gov is a CPSC site where you can report a dangerous product yourself and read about other reported problems, even for products that have not been recalled.
If you or a family member has been injured due to the use of a recalled product, SUGARMAN’s personal injury lawyers can help. Fill out a contact form, call us at (617) 542-1000, or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will respond as soon as possible.