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Product recalls in the United States - Statistics & Facts

A product recall is a request to return a product after the discovery of subpar quality standards, safety issues, or product defects that might endanger the consumer and/or put the maker or seller at risk of legal action. The recall is an effort to ensure public safety, limit ruination of the corporate image, and limit liability for corporate negligence, which can cause the responsible company significant legal costs. Even if an item that was deemed unsafe is removed from store shelves, few steps are taken to actually remove said item from homes, facilities, second-hand stores, and garage sales. Coupled with the reality that many consumers may be unaware of any product-related hazards or incidents, it results in millions of recalled products remaining in use.

Product recalls occur in many industries

Many types of products get launched for recall for a variety of safety reasons. For instance, a total of nearly 30 sporting equipment products sold in the United States were requested for return by the respective manufacturers in 2021. When sporting goods and fitness equipment items are recalled, it is frequently due to product defects that caused accidents, which in turn, led to physical injuries or falls. In contrast, beauty, personal care, and hygiene products are more likely to be recalled for other reasons, such as incidents involving skin irritation. In 2021, six personal care items had been issued a recall in the United States, a figure far lower than that of the previous year.

Children’s products

Although injuries are sustained by adults due to faulty products frequently enough, the most exposed to the threat of an unsafe product are children and infants. Each year, several instances of children falling, choking, drowning, and so on, are reported by U.S. parents as a result of unsafe products. In 2021, just over 60 products meant for children had been recalled across the United States. While this number is significantly lower when compared to other years, e.g., 2008, another factor to consider is the number of product units that needed to be returned. In 2008, over 200 kids’ products had been recalled, however, this translated to the same number of units being sent back as in 2021, namely about 19 million.

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