We are a land of consumers and thankfully, although not a perfect system, there are systems in place to make product recalls for consumer protection. Many recalls make big headlines like the recall of Thomas the Train cars and accessories with toxic red paint or bagged spinach containing e-coli or peanut butter containing salmonella. Still, many consumers wonder if they are missing important recall information.
One way to get on a recall list is to fill out the warranty or registration card that comes with many products from car seats, to walkie talkies or cordless phones to washing machines. By sharing your information, you can increase the chances of being personally alerted if there is a recall on your product. Of course, if you move, change phone numbers or e-mail addresses, this makes it more difficult to find you.
What is the ODI and what are EWRs?
The ODI is the Office of Defects Investigation. As of September10, 2008, the ODI website was modified to make EWR, or Early Warning Reports public.
Following the Firestone tire recall, Congress approved a package for EWR and manufacturers have been required to submit Early Warning Reports since 2003. However, this information was kept confidential. Now it is available to consumers through the ODI website.
Consumers can learn hear about potential problems and safety concerns including any fatalities reported by car manufacturers.
Finding out about Product Recalls: recalls.gov
Six federal agencies work together to share the information on federal product recalls at recalls.gov. Those agencies include the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA), the United States Coast Guard (USCG), the Federal Drug Agency (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This site of course is covering important but limited products including:
Motor vehicle recalls
Environmental Product Recalls
Consumer Product Recalls
Remember that this website will cover recalls that have been recalled by the federal government and is not all-inclusive.
You can access information on the recalls.gov website a couple of different ways. There are tabs for the specific areas covered such as Motor Vehicle Recalls or Food Recalls. Additionally, you can view Recent Recalls or search for specific product recalls. Information is available in Spanish as well as English.
You may be surprised by the number and variety of recent recalls including:
Pressure Washers/Air Compressors
Children’s Toys, Purses, Pen Cases
Replacement Torch Fuel Containers
Finding out about Product Recalls: parents.com (Parent’s magazine)
Some of the most fearful of recalls are parents. No parent wants his or her baby riding in an unsafe car seat or playing with a toy with that has a choking hazard. Parent’s magazine diligently covers baby and children recalls and offers an easy to use and updated product recall section on their web site.
You can search for a specific product, look at their list of the Biggest Recalls of 2008, check the most recent recalls or check out products by category like bathing, bottles, clothing, slings or pacifiers.
Examples of Most Recent Recalls include:
Children’s Hooded Sweatshirts with Drawstrings
Bonavita “Cabana” Drop Side Cribs
Bonavita “Hudson” and Babi Italia “Pinehurst” Drop Side Cribs
Outdoor Playset Gliders
Don’t ever forget that you the consumer are part of the consumer protection process. Always report any safety hazards, safety risks or malfunctions that you discover with any product.