When researching a purchase, there are a lot of factors to consider. Did it get good reviews? Does it have all of the features you want? Is priced competitively? But as of late, one additional factor has become increasingly important: Has there been a recall?
Product recalls are nothing new, but the last year has seen an alarmingly large and diverse list of goods that needed to be pulled off shelves. From automobiles to frozen food, virtually no industry was safe from a widespread recall.
The Explosive Tale of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7
The Galaxy smartphones have long been Samsung’s flagship devices, and early reviews were declaring that the Note 7 was the company’s best phone to date. So when reports began spreading that the smartphones had a tendency to catch fire and explode, it was pretty big news. To make matters worse, replacement devices from the initial recall continued to catch fire, prompting a second recall and discontinuation of the device. Remaining Note 7 owners were asked to permanently power down their phones, and cell carriers pushed out firmware updates to prevent the phone’s battery from accepting a charge. Consumers are still waiting for an official explanation from Samsung as to why the devices had such a high failure rate, but many critics see the entire debacle as a black eye that won’t be easily healed.
Playground Slides Recalled due to Amputations
Playgrounds can be a little dangerous if you aren’t careful. Who among us never scraped their knee or banged their elbow during recess? Sure, these bumps and bruises may have been worn like grade school badges of honor, but one thing none of us ever expected to endure was an amputation.
Tragically, that’s exactly what happened to two children whose fingers were amputated due to a defect in a playground slide. The Lightning Slide, manufactured by Horizon Industries, contained a design flaw where the weld between the bedway (the piece children sit on) and the side wall can separate, exposing a sharp gap in the metal. If this occurs, a child’s finger can get caught in the space, creating an amputation hazard. The company quickly issued a recall of around 1,300 slides, and began offering free replacements and installations.
So Many Automobile Recalls
Automobile safety is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a new vehicle. Unfortunately, the sheer number of automobile recalls of 2016 made it difficult to determine safety, with several major manufacturers having to recall certain vehicle models:
- Ford recalls 830k vehicles over doors that won’t stay latched
- Fiat Chrysler recalls 550k vehicles over gear shifters that unexpectedly shift into neutral
- Mazda recalls 190k vehicles over possible steering failure
- Fiat Chrysler recalls 1.9 million vehicles with defective airbags
- GM recalls 3.6 million vehicles with defective airbags
- Nissan recalls 120k vehicles, tells owners to park outside over fire concerns
- Takata recalls shrapnel-shooting airbags following 11 linked deaths
- Toyota recalls 92k Prius Sedans over brake defects
Sadly, the list goes on. And with Toyota, Honda and Ford separately announcing over 2 million combined vehicle recalls due to Takata airbag defects in early January, the trend may be continuing into 2017.
Food Poisoning is Back on the Menu
2016’s product recalls weren’t limited to exploding cellphones and unsafe automobiles, it also saw a large number of foods that needed to be pulled from shelves due to health concerns.
4C announced a nationwide recall of 8 varieties of grated cheese after testing revealed that the products could be contaminated with Salmonella. Seven people in four states became ill due to eating Adams Farm red meat that was tainted with E.Coli. Kellogg’s recalled Eggo Nutri-Grain whole wheat waffles after find they could be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
And while these recalls were all serious concerns, perhaps one of the largest food recalls of the year belonged to General Mills. A massive nationwide E.Coli outbreak was eventually traced back to General Mills flour. The company issued a recall, but the effects were sweeping, leading to numerous pre-package mixes that used a General Mills supplier getting pulled from store shelves.
How to Stay Diligent about Product Recalls
It’s not always easy to find information about a product recall unless you are specifically searching for it. But with the serious and potentially life-threatening risks of these and other recalls, it’s worth taking some precautions to make sure you aware of compromised products that may affect you. Consumers can subscribe for email alerts from the FDA as soon as they become available. It may also be worth checking out consumer-focused news sites like The Consumerist and Consumer Reports, as they frequently report on the latest recalled products. You can also set up Google Alerts using keywords like “product recall” to receive an email alert whenever a news story on the keyword is published.
And if you find that a product you have purchased is part of a recall, it’s recommended to contact the manufacturer and follow their instructions for repair or replacement as soon as possible. A major product recall is serious business, and ignoring it can put you or those around you at risk.
Disclaimer: This article has been prepared for general information purposes and does not constitute legal advice, nor does it imply an attorney-client relationship or contract with Wexler Wallace.