Product recalls can have catastrophic effects on a company, stain its reputation, and even lead to bankruptcy, such as in the case of the Peanut Corporation of America’s 2009 nationwide recall. But these disastrous consequences can also affect consumers and their safety.
That is why, when shopping for a product, it is important to understand why recalls happen and how to avoid products that should be off the market. In this guide, you’ll find what you need to know to keep yourself safe and protect your rights as a consumer.
Let’s dive in!
Common Reasons Behind Product Recalls
Product recalls can happen for a wide range of reasons, usually due to complaints, safety concerns, or defects. The order for a recall is sometimes issued by regulators or government bodies (i.e.: the FDA) to safeguard the public’s health or reduce consumer risk.
However, companies might choose to voluntarily recall a line of products or a batch following several complaints, to achieve customer satisfaction, or to safeguard their reputation. Some businesses might also consider voluntary recall to be a more cost-effective option than waiting for a forced recall or dealing with lawsuits.
Although recalls are considered to be financially damaging in both situations, companies can reduce the impact of this business decision by properly managing the product recall.
Some of the reasons behind product recall include:
- Faults in the products
- Failure to meet certain standards
- Unsafe products or goods
- Issues with the safety of parts used in the product’s manufacturing
- Issues with the product’s packaging, instructions, or labeling
- Complaints by regulators, manufacturers, or consumers
The Industries and Products Most Affected by Recalls
Although recalls can take place in any industry or niche, a glance at the biggest product recalls of all time show that there are some higher-risk industries.
- Food and beverage
- Fast-moving consumer goods
- Medications and pharmaceuticals
- Medical devices
- Vehicles and automobiles
- Components of machinery and vehicles
- Children’s toys and furniture
When purchasing a product in one of the categories above, you might consider using caution to verify its authenticity and suitability.
How to Protect Yourself From Dangerous Products
Although major recall operations might make headlines, product recalls are more common than consumers think – and most cases often fall under the radar of buyers.
So, how can you protect yourself and your family from the health and safety risks involved with dangerous products? The strategies below can help!
Take Advantage of Online Resources and Directories to Know if a Product Has Been Recalled
Before buying a high-risk product (such as medications or vehicles) consider investigating the model, make, or type you are interested in buying.
Resources such as the directory made available by the Consumer Product Safety Commission or websites like Recalls.gov can help you search for a certain product and make sure it has not been recalled.
Avoid Fake Products and Counterfeit
According to statistics by the OECD, over 3.3% of the world’s trade is made of fake and counterfeit goods – and this percentage is only bound to continue growing with the advent of eCommerce. After all, estimations show that nearly half of all medicines sold online are counterfeit!
Fake goods might not be built to standards and might not have passed the required safety tests. To avoid inadvertently buying these products, be sure to ask for a certificate of authenticity, purchase goods only from trustworthy sellers, and look for inconsistencies.
If You’re Harmed by a Dangerous Product, You May Be Entitled to Compensation
Although the strategies above can help you stay safe, it is not always possible to foresee the dangers of a certain product. That is why it is just as important to know what to do if you have been harmed by a dangerous product or if an item has caused someone’s death.
The most efficient strategy is to surround yourself with expert legal professionals who know how to file product liability lawsuits against sellers or retailers of defective products and obtain the compensation you deserve.
Learn To Recognize Products That Have Been Tampered With
Lastly, don’t forget that being mindful when shopping can help you avoid most of the risks associated with fast-moving consumer goods. For example, a simple but efficient step you can take today is to inspect a product to identify signs of tampering (i.e.: holes, leaks, bulges, rips, punctures, tears, etc.).
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And, of course, don’t buy high-risk items on obscure or suspicious websites! Although cost savings might be appealing if a price seems too good to be true, it probably is – and you might be inadvertently putting yourself at risk!