What do child car seats, ground beef, boating equipment, car parts and consumer products have in common? They are all subject to be recalled in the United States. Maybe you have gotten a letter in the mail from the maker of your car saying that one part is being recalled, or you have heard on the news about contaminated romaine lettuce or hypertension medication being recalled by a manufacturer, but what does a recall typically entail?
As a concerned Citizen for Health and health freedom fighter, you know that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) handles recalls for food, drinks, over-the-counter medications, prescriptions, cosmetics and medical devices. Many of these products are voluntarily recalled, which means that after a hazard is determined (either by FDA investigation or company acknowledgement), the manufacturer chooses to recall the product in question on its own. Many of these recalls are, however, made after threat of legal action by the FDA or consumers. When companies do not recall products in a timely manner, affected consumers will often file lawsuits against the manufacturers, like in the case of the frequent valsartan and losartan recalls that have been happening in the United States, India and China since July 2018.
Consumer products subject to recalls include clothing, furniture, electronics, appliances, children’s toys and sports equipment. These tend to be recalled due to potential for user injury or death, flammable qualities, or defects in the product that could make the product break or become unusable. This category of recall is handled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which has a comprehensive system for handling product investigations and, if necessary, product recalls. In addition to the risk of injury or product malfunction, the CPSC also requires that products be reported if they result in the death of any child, regardless of age.
The CPSC will occasionally initiate an investigation after lawsuits have been filed over a product, but in most cases, the investigations and subsequent recalls occur after individuals or manufacturers report defects or potential dangers as they become known. Even if a manufacturer does not believe a recall is warranted, it is still legally required in the United States that the company reports any potentially harmful incidents to the CPSC. To ensure that consumers’ safety is of the utmost concern, the CPSC can fine companies who do not report potentially dangerous products up to almost $2 million U.S. dollars.
When a labeling issue occurs in any product, regardless of which category it falls into, a recall must also be initiated. Labeling issues encompass a wide range of concerns, such as mislabeled allergens for food or cosmetic packaging, incorrect directions for how to assemble furniture, or warnings on vehicle parts. While various government agencies may handle these investigations, they still often end in voluntary recalls on behalf of the manufacturer or distributor of that item.
Product recalls are not something to be taken lightly, and there are many ways that consumers can inform themselves and their loved ones so they are not harmed by a faulty product. In fact, issues with products can go unknown for long stretches of time, which is why consumers should use available online information to their benefit. We know all too well that big Pharma is concerned with getting approval for any new drug as quickly as possible, so it is up to us to be vigilant and to stay informed. Two easy ways that Americans can be mindful about new recalls are to follow the CPSC and FDA on Twitter for up-to-date information, and to sign up for the FDA Medicine Recalls newsletter on its website. Staying informed is critical for maintaining our health freedom.