Have you ever learned that a product that you or someone close to you uses regularly had been recalled weeks or months after the recall? Unfortunately, not all product recalls make the news. It’s just too risky to find out about a recall by chance, especially if it involves food or products for young children. Remaining unaware of recalled items could put your health and the health of your family at risk. But how can you possibly stay abreast of the hundreds of new items that are removed from store shelves each day? Here are three ways you can keep on top of recalls.
Recalls.gov is a one-stop-shop for recalls on everything from children’s toys to medicine. Information is culled from six federal agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency. When you visit this site, you can also report a dangerous product to a specific agency. For example, if you had an incident involving a consumer product, you can contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission at 800-638-2772, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or fill out a consumer product incident report online.
If you don’t have time to check the recalls.gov Website for updates, you can sign up for the mailing list for the agency of your choice and have recall information sent directly to your inbox.
You can also subscribe to the RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed for a particular agency. Feeds and podcasts are broken down by area of interest, but you can also visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission Website and subscribe to an RSS feed that lists all major recalls and news for all six agencies. This is another way for you to avoid constantly checking the site for updates.
In addition to staying current on the latest recall news, you should also go a step further and be aware of the products in your home. One way to stay out of harm’s way is to use caution whenever buying or receiving a used product. Many recalled items get passed on this way. If you recently purchased a used item and want to know if it might have been recalled, you can visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission Website and review the product recalls database. The database, which allows you to search products by month and year, product type, product description, and company, goes back as far as 1973.
For more information on a specific type of recall, visit the following sites:
Consumer Product Safety Commission (consumer products)
Environmental Protection Agency (environmental products)
Food and Drug Administration (medicine, cosmetics)
Food Safety.gov (food)
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (motor vehicles and related equipment)
United States Coast Guard (recreational boats and related equipment)
Sheiresa Ngo is the consumer affairs editor at Black Enterprise.