Product recall

For The Office episode, see Product Recall.

A product recall is a request to return a product after the discovery of safety issues or product defects that might endanger the consumer or put the maker/seller at risk of legal action.

The recall is an effort to limit ruination of the corporate image and limit liability for corporate negligence, which can cause significant legal costs. It can be difficult, if not impossible, to determine how costly can be releasing to the consumer a product that could endanger someone's life and the economic loss resulting from unwanted publicity. Recalls are costly. Costs include having to handle the recalled product, replacing it and possibly being held financially responsible for the consequences of the recalled product.

A country's consumer protection laws will have specific requirements in regard to product recalls. Such regulations may include how much of the cost the maker will have to bear, situations in which a recall is compulsory (usually because the risk is big enough), or penalties for failure to recall. The firm may also initiate a recall voluntarily, perhaps subject to the same regulations as if the recall were compulsory.

General steps to a product recall

A product recall usually involves the following steps, which may differ according to local laws:

Highlights of major product recalls (1959-present)






















Product recall agencies by country






The Netherlands

New Zealand

United Kingdom

United States

Recalls by Industry

Automotive Industry

In general, the number of recalls has been increasing - with an exception during the economic crisis 2009-2010 – due to time, cost and market pressure. Per year, global automotive warranties are estimated as USD 40 billion, 3–5% loss in sales. Low priced production often leads to minor quality, and outsourcing leads to a shift of knowledge concerning techniques and processes. This way, technical failures are more likely to occur due to communication problems between the different parties engaged in the supply chain and missing definitions for technical interfaces. Despite the increasing number of recalls, a Mojo Motors, Inc. study found only .005 percent of customers ask about recalls when contacting dealerships.[81]

Manufacturers have to notify the owner when there’s a recall notice, but in the case of a second, third or fourth owner of the car, the company may be sending the notice to a previous one.[82]

Pharmaceutical Industry

Product recalls occur in the Pharmaceutical Industry as well. When evaluating an item for a potential recall, the Food and Drug Administration's recall strategy is to conduct a Health hazard evaluation to assist in determining a person's risk of being harmed by an adulterated substance.[83] In addition to the results of the Health hazard evaluation, the following items are taken into account when determining if an item should be recalled: - "Ease in identifying the product - Degree to which the product remains unused in the market place - Continued availability of essential products".[83]

The accurate evaluation of the health hazard posed by the product is an important first step. For example, allergen contamination remains a problem area in the pharmaceutical and dietary supplements industries. There are analytical limits on allergen detection for many substances. Until recently, there was no mechanism in place to evaluate the health risk to consumers when allergens are present at levels below detectable thresholds. The development of the Quantitative Risk Assessment has made it possible to establish thresholds for several of the major food allergens.[84] This assessment gives numerical estimates of the likelihood of illness or death after allergen/toxin exposure and is used to establish a threshold by combining dose-response relationships, biological effects and variability in the allergic group. Genotoxic and carcinogenic impurities can be assessed with this method as well.

Food Industry

Pet Food Recalls

Every year, there are several pet food and treat recalls due to spoiled or tainted ingredients. Perhaps the most known was in 2007. The 2007 pet food recalls involved the massive recall of many brands of cat and dog foods beginning in March 2007. The recalls came in response to reports of renal failure in pets consuming mostly wet pet foods made with wheat gluten from a single Chinese company, beginning in February 2007. The recall began voluntarily with the Canadian company Menu Foods on March 16, 2007, when a company test showed sickness and death in some of the test animals. Overall, several major companies have recalled 150 different brands of food comprising more than 5,000 separate pet food products. The FDA and USDA investigation found the food to be intentionally contaminated with the chemical melamine.[85]

However pet food recalls are not rare at all. The 2007 recall stands out and is well known because of the sheer size, scope, and number of animals affected. But pet food recalls occur on a regular basis. For instance, on September 12, 2008 Mars Petcare US announced a voluntary recall of all dry pet food products produced at its plant in Everson, Pennsylvania, citing potential contamination with salmonella.[86][87]

See also


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External links

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