If you pay any attention to the news, you know that product recalls are a common occurrence. If you’ve been lucky enough that you haven’t been affected by a recall yet, don’t count yourself out just yet. Regulations are tightening across all industries. Combined with pressures to cut costs and speed up production, things sometimes go awry and products make it to the shelves that are potentially dangerous.
Usually, products are recalled voluntarily after several consumers complain. If serious injury is involved, it only takes a few complaints for regulatory agencies like the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) or Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) to ask the company to issue a product recall. But if you’re a consumer, how can you be sure that you find out about all recalls that affect you? And what do you do if you have a product that’s been recalled?
You’ll find everything you need to know to keep your family, pets and home safe in this guide with comprehensive information on product recalls from from more than 90 trusted sources, that range from consumer safety organizations to government websites.
Table of Contents
- How Product Recalls are Classified
- Consumer Product Recalls
- Pet Product Recalls
- Drug Recalls
- Food Recalls
- Vehicle Recalls
- What to do If a Product You Own is Recalled
Recalls are often classified according to the level of risk or the seriousness of risk that exists for the consumer or the user. For instance, a Class I recall issued by the FDA on a prescription drug indicates the highest level of risk – that the use of or exposure to the product is likely to cause serious adverse health effects or death. A Class III recall is far less serious, defined as not likely to cause adverse health effects. These classification levels help consumers understand the potential risks and how quickly they should act. Not all agencies classify recalls for all types of products.
Get more information about how product recall classification from these 5 sites.
- FDA Safety – Background and Definitions
- FDA 101: Product Recalls – From First Alert to Effectiveness Checks
- US Recall News – Product Recall Classes I II III
- Michigan Department of Agriculture – Food Product Recalls Guidelines for Industry
- Consumer Product Safety Commission – Recall Handbook
Baby and Children’s Products
Baby and children’s products are among the most-frequently recalled consumer product categories. This is partly because it’s a tightly regulated industry with strict safety regulations, and partly because of the vast number of products produced by an array of manufacturers. Unfortunately, many accidents involving infant and children’s products have serious or even fatal outcomes.
Here are 11 of the Web’s top resources for infant and children product recalls.
- Injuries and Deaths Associated with Nursery Products Among Children Younger Than Age Five
- Research Statistics – Toys & Children’s Products
- Kids in Danger – Improving Child Product Safety
- Product Hazards
- Two-Year Checkup: SaferProducts.gov
Where to Check for Baby and Children’s Product Recalls
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Child Seat Recall Campaign Listing
- SaferProducts.gov – Recall Search
- We Make It Safer – Children’s Product Recalls
- Parents.com – Toy and Product Recall Finder
- JPMA – Infant and Child Product Recalls
- Safe Kids Worldwide – Product Recalls
Home Products and Appliances
Products used in the home, such as home appliances, are also subject to recalls by agencies like the Consumer Product Safety Commission. These recalls are usually related to some malfunction that could lead to injuries or serious health risks. Appliances with defective wiring could catch fire, for instance. Resolutions for consumers range from returning products for full refunds to obtaining an at-home repair kit or part replacement to resolve the issue.
Here are 10 top resources for home product and appliance recalls.
- Furniture & Décor – Research & Statistics
- Kitchen & Dining – Research & Statistics
- Consumer Product Safety Commission – Statutes
- ExpertRECALL Index – Stericycle
- ConsumerWatch – Household Products
Where to Check for Home Products and Appliance Recalls
- Consumer Product Safety Commission – Recalls
- HHS.gov – Product Safety and Recall Lists
- Consumer Affairs
- Data.gov – Household Product Related Recalls
Pet product recalls are getting a lot of media attention in recent years. These recalls are mostly related to pet food that’s been contaminated, resulting in illness, seizures or other health consequences for pets. Flea treatments and other pet medications are also subject to safety recalls.
The following 11 online resources provide everything you need to know about pet product recalls and where to find them.
- ASPCA – Pet Food Recalls
- The Humane Society – Pet Food Safety
- FDA Animal & Veterinary – Recalls & Withdrawals
- Animal Health Foundation
- Truth About Pet Food
Where to Check for Pet Product Recalls
- AMVA – Pet Food & Product Recalls/Alerts
- FDA – Animal & Veterinary Recalls & Withdrawals
- Humane Society – Pet Food Safety
- Dog Food Recalls
- The Latest Cat Product Recalls
- PetMD – Recalls and Alerts
Prescription Drug (Pharmaceutical) Recalls
Drug makers must prove both efficacy and safety in a series of multiple-stage, double-blind clinical trials, along with panel reviews by the FDA, to get new drugs approved for use in the general patient population. Despite the rigorous approval process, drug recalls are common as the true impact of adverse events becomes clear with widespread, real-world use. When recalls are issued, healthcare providers must stop prescribing the drug and pharmacies must remove it from their shelves immediately. However, patients must still be informed so that they can discontinue taking their current prescription immediately.
Here are 5 trusted resources for prescription drug recalls.
- The US drug safety system: role of the pharmaceutical industry.
- DEA – Drug Scheduling
- Adverse Event Reporting System (AERS)
- FDA Approved Drug Products
- NIH – Drug Safety
OTC Medication Recalls
Over-the-counter (OTC) medications are also commonly recalled for incorrect ingredient composition and other concerns. Recalls often occur for non-compliant labels, usually after the FDA changes a policy that requires changes to the currently accepted format. Many infant and children’s Tylenol products were pulled from the shelves in 2011, for example, after the FDA mandated changes to dosing instructions. Tylenol products currently on shelves immediately became non-compliant, thus the recall. Because manufacturers have to start the production process over again with new packaging, it takes a few weeks to months before the OTC drug becomes available again.
Check these 6 resources for OTC medication recalls.
- NIH – Over-the-Counter Medications
- What is a Drug Recall?
- Consumer Healthcare Products Association
- Drug Recalls
- Drug Applications for Over-the-Counter (OTC) Drugs
- Regulation of Non-Prescription Drug Products
Dietary Supplement Recalls
Dietary supplements are regulated with less stringent criteria. While there’s no safety approval process before supplements may be sold to the public, the FDA is responsible for oversight once they’re on the market. The FDA can request that a dietary supplement manufacturer issue a voluntary recall, or the FDA can issue an involuntary recall if the company does not do so voluntarily.
Here are 6 resources for supplement recalls.
- NIH – Herbs and Supplements
- Dietary Supplements – What You Need to Know
- Using Dietary Supplements Wisely
- Office of Dietary Supplements
- FTC – Dietary Supplements
- Dietary Supplements: An Advertising Guide for Industry
Where to Check for Prescription, OTC and Dietary Supplement Recalls
You can get every drug recall, from OTC drugs to supplements to all prescription recalls, from these 6 sources.
- FDA – Drug Recalls
- Recalls, Market Withdrawals, & Safety Alerts
- Drug Warnings, Recalls & News
- Recent Alerts & Recalls
- Family Watchdog
- Institute for Safe Medication Practices
Food product recalls are regulated by the FDA and are typically related to the product being contaminated during the manufacturing or packaging process, usually by bacteria or by contact with allergens. Allergen exposure during processing must be disclosed on the food label, which rarely happens when the contact is unintentional.
Find all your food recalls on these 14 top Web sites.
- FDA – Food Processing Criteria
- Understanding the Recall Concept in the Food Industry
- Food Safety: Foodborne Illness and Selected Recalls of FDA-Regulated Foods
- Food Safety Issues for the 113th Congress
- USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service – Risk Assessments
- USDA National Agricultural Library – Microbiological Standards and Guidelines
- FDA – Food Code
- BeFoodSafe.org – Recall Basics
Where to Check for Food Product Recalls
- FoodSafety.gov – Recalls & Alerts
- Recalls.gov – Food
- FDA Database of Food Recalls and Alerts
- Food Safety and Inspection Service
- Food Safety News
- Food Poisoning Bulletin
Motor vehicles, specific vehicle parts, motors, tires, and other components are frequently the subject of recalls. Safety is a likely reason many vehicles are recalled. Even if a recall is related to a single part, such as a fuel line valve, the reason typically relates back to safety. Many parts can create serious risks if they malfunction, such as causing the driver to lose control, failing to secure a child seat adequately in a crash, or causing the vehicle to catch fire under certain circumstances. If you own a motor vehicle that’s been recalled, you usually must take it to a manufacturer-certified repair center to have it fixed.
These 11 websites contain all you need to know about vehicle recalls.
- National Highway Safety and Traffic Administration
- Federal Register: Early Warning Reporting, Foreign Defect Reporting, and Motor Vehicle and Equipment Recall Regulations
- Do Vehicle Recalls Reduce the Number of Accidents?
- Motor Vehicle Defects and Safety Recalls: What Every Vehicle Owner Should Know
- Information Transmission and Vehicle Recalls: The Role and Regulation of Recall Notification Letters
Where to Check for Vehicle Recalls
- Recalls.gov – Motor Vehicles
- NHTSA – Recalls & Defects
- Search a Database of Car Recalls
- Check Your Vehicle’s VIN for Outstanding Recalls
- Motorist Assurance Program
Consumers who hear about a massive recall on the news often don’t know what steps to take next. Determining whether the specific model or lot number of your product is affected is the first step. Typically, recall notices issued online contain specific steps and information for consumers with affected products. This includes a website and phone number for the company, whether consumers will receive a refund or full replacement, replacement part or repair kit, and what steps the consumer should take. For big-ticket products, such as vehicles, consumers are usually mailed a voucher and required to take the vehicle to an authorized repair center.
For more on what to do when a product you own is recalled, check any of these 6 informative sources.