Have you bought something that was later recalled by the
manufacturer or the government? Are you sure?
A recent poll by Consumer Reports (CR) finds only one-fifth of
U.S. adults were aware of having purchased food, medication or a
product (other than a car) that was recalled in the past three
The nationally representative survey, conducted by Consumer Reports National Research Center found
that half of consumers were not confident that manufacturers and
retailers provided safety information to government agencies.
Two-fifths lacked confidence that manufacturers and retailers gave
consumers with appropriate product recall information.
Full survey results appear in the magazine's February issue, now
Among the survey’s other findings:
- Of the 20 percent of the population who believe they purchased
a recalled product, nearly 40 percent responded that it was for
food, almost 40 percent for a medication, and 24 percent for a
- Less than one quarter of Americans researched a product they
purchased to see if it was recalled.
- More than half of Americans said they never or rarely filled
out the registration cards that come with products.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), at
least 124.7 million products were recalled last year and overall,
recalled products were associated with 26 deaths. Tens of millions
of children each year are needlessly exposed to unsafe products,
toys, and foods that have been recalled, according to CR.
“Time and time again we’ve seen incidents of
recalled products including bassinets, window blind cords and toys,
killing or injuring children,” said Don Mays, senior
director, product safety, Consumer Reports. “Among the
most effective steps to protect yourself is to get your name on
manufacturer’s recall contact lists so that you can be
notified when something you purchased is recalled. You can do that
by mailing in product registration cards that come with many
products or registering online. ”
Many miss out
Regardless of their skepticism regarding the sources of safety
information, a large majority of U.S. adults felt that it was
extremely important that consumers receive appropriate recall
notices for medications and food. They appeared to be less
concerned with notices connected to clothing and sporting equipment
However, when it comes to recalls of children’s sporting
equipment, people were nearly as concerned that parents get
accurate safety information, as they were for children’s food
and medication recalls.
While only 20 percent of consumers were concerned that they
personally missed a recall announcement in the past three years,
some groups were more concerned than others. For example, concern
appears to decrease with age.
More than a quarter of 18 to 24-year-old consumers were
concerned they missed a product recall notice. This compares with
less than a sixth of all consumers 65 and older. Parents of school
and/or pre-school age children were also slightly more apt to be
worried about missing such announcements than were other adults (26
percent vs. 19 percent).
In the loop
Consumers were more likely to find out about product recalls
from the news than any other source. Nearly two-thirds of those who
had experienced a recent food recall and a slight majority of those
who purchased a recalled medication found out about the recall from
a news report.
Finding out about product recalls was somewhat more varied.
While a plurality of those who purchased a recalled product were
informed of the recall via the news, one-sixth found out about the
recall from the manufacturer and a little more than a tenth from
family, friends or coworkers.
Consumer Reports analyzed all recalls publicly announced by the
CPSC in its 2010 fiscal year that ran from October 1, 2009 to
September 30, 2010. Other information was collected from the
recalls database on the CPSC’s website. Here are some
- Fisher-Price had the most recalls; five notices involved 11.38
million products. Various toys and high chairs were included.
- The largest single recall involved McDonald’s
Shrek-themed glasses with decals containing cadmium. Twelve million
glasses were recalled.
- Items intended for children represented 73 percent of recalled
products. There were 177 recalls of children’s products
amounting to 54.2 million items.
- Strangulation was the hazard most often associated with the
recalled products. That danger was common to all recalls of corded
window coverings and of children’s outerwear with
The Consumer Reports Product Recalls survey is based on a
nationally representative sample of American adults, conducted by
the Consumer Reports National Research Center. A total of 2,005
landline and cellular random digit dial (RDD) telephone interviews
were completed among adults aged 18+. Interviewing took place
between August 19 and August 29, 2010. The margin of error is +/-
2.6 points at a 95 percent confidence level.
Have You Purchased A Recalled Product?
Consumer Reports poll finds just 20% of consumers know they did