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August 20, 2022  |  Education

What products are recalled most often?

Every year, hundreds of product recalls involving several million units of product are announced to consumers. Recalls are intended to remove dangerous products from our homes, roads, and workplaces, but they’re often issued months or even years after they first cause serious injury — or even death. Here are some of the most commonly recalled products to be aware of. 

Food and drug recalls

Products regulated by the FDA are subject to recalls in three classes:

  • Class I recalls are for products that have a “reasonable probability” of causing serious injury or death. This is the most urgent type of recall.
  • Class II recalls are for products that may cause temporary or treatable serious injury or illness.
  • Class III recalls are for products that are unlikely to cause injury or illness but still violate FDA regulations due to minor defects.


The FDA reviews and advises on the manufacturer’s recall strategy in all three types of recalls. The FDA also monitors the effectiveness of the recall to make sure unsafe products are actually being removed from circulation.

Food and beverages

Food is the most frequently recalled product in the U.S. Food recalls are often the result of undeclared potential allergens like wheat or peanuts, exposure to deadly bacteria, or potential contamination with fragments from broken machinery. Infant formula, chicken, peanut butter, cut melon, and deli meat are all frequent subjects of recalls. 

Pharmaceutical 

Drugs, medical equipment, and dietary supplements have all been subject to recent recalls. Some drugs are found to contain undeclared quantities of other pharmaceutical ingredients, while dietary supplements may contain undeclared allergens or bacteria like salmonella. Others may be recalled because they were mislabeled. Some drugs may be recalled because they’re found to cause serious health risks after they’ve become widely used.

A recall usually occurs because the manufacturer discovered an issue and voluntarily issued a recall notice. Less commonly, the FDA will request a recall after receiving complaints of illness or injury.

Pet food 

Pet food is often recalled for many of the same reasons as human food, including bacterial or mold contamination, foreign material from damaged packaging or machinery, or undeclared ingredients. Pet foods may also be recalled because they contain too much or too little of a nutrient like vitamin D, which can cause serious health problems. If you have pets, the American Veterinary Medicine Association is a good source for keeping up-to-date on food recalls.

Infant and child product recalls

Outside of food, items manufactured for children are the most frequently recalled products. Toys, clothing, and furniture all pose a risk to infants and children who may not yet be physically or mentally developed enough to protect themselves from serious injury. Even products that aren’t manufactured specifically for children, like craft glue or over-the-counter medications, sometimes end up recalled due to failure to meet child-resistant packaging requirements.

Cribs

Infant cribs, sleepers, and loungers have been subject to major product recalls. Babies can become trapped between crib bars or fall out of drop-side cribs. Sleepers or loungers with soft padding or mattresses pose a suffocation risk, and some fabrics may not meet flammability standards. Some cribs have been recalled due to exposed metal brackets that pose a laceration hazard.

Toys

From baby rattles to magnetic play sets, toys are prone to recalls due to the increased dangers posed to their young users. Recalls are frequently due to choking, ingestion, falling, or entrapment hazards, but some recalled toys pose a risk of electrical shock or burns. Some may contain paint or metal components with unsafe quantities of lead.

Recalled toys should be taken away immediately and the manufacturer contacted for a refund or replacement, according to the recall notice instructions. 

Car seats

Buying a used car seat is not recommended due to the number of recalls and evolving regulations on child car seats. Remember that a recalled product isn’t necessarily a current product: some current car seat recalls extend to seats that were manufactured more than eight years ago.

Other common product recalls

Other major product recalls have occurred with:

FAQ

Q. What do I do if I’m affected by a product recall?

A. First, stay calm. Many products are recalled for minor reasons, but you should still take the recall seriously. Read the recall notice carefully to see if your food or product is part of the recall, as sometimes only specific lots or batches are affected. If it is, check the recall notice to see if the manufacturer has issued instructions for safely disposing of the product or obtaining a refund.

In case of a prescription drug recall, talk to your doctor about safely switching to another medication. Dispose of the recalled medication through a pharmacy take-back program or a Drug Enforcement Administration take-back event.

Q. What do I do if my car has a recall?

A. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the agency responsible for issuing vehicle safety standards and requiring recalls for violations of those standards. Along with cars, the NHTSA also oversees trucks, motorcycles, and buses as well as tires, child car seats, and other related motor equipment.

Vehicle recall notices should include everything car owners need to know, including which vehicles are affected, what the issue is, how to fix it, and the time frame for addressing the issue. The manufacturer may choose to repair the issue at no cost to the consumer, refund the price of the vehicle, or replace the vehicle entirely. If you have questions about your vehicle recall, contact a service center for more details.

Q. Do I get a refund if an appliance is recalled?

A. Similar to car recalls, if you’re the registered owner of a recalled appliance, you’ll receive a recall notice from the manufacturer that should inform you about the nature of the recall and what steps to take. Stop using the recalled appliance, even if it appears safe to you. The manufacturer may offer to repair, refund, or replace the appliance, depending on how serious the issue is.

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Laura Duerr writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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