Why are product recalls important?

Products are often placed onto store shelves and sold to consumers even though they are unsafe or contain manufacturing defects. A product recall is a procedure where defective or dangerous product are retrieved from consumers. In some cases, these recalls can lead to product liability lawsuits.

Product recall defined

Recalls are usually issued when a defect is discovered that may hinder the product’s performance, injures consumers or cause potential legal problems for the manufacturer.

A government agency or the manufacturer usually issue a public recall of the defective product. The government notice is usually issued by the agency responsible for regulating the product such as the US Food and Drug Administration or the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The government may also announce a mandatory recall if the product constitutes a significant risk to its users.

Manufacturers issue most recalls. Their voluntary recalls are intended to prevent legal liability and negative publicity. Recalls may also be issued after a consumer watch group discovers a product defect.


Many local laws govern recalls. But these usually follow common procedures.

The manufacturer will make a public announcement about the products defect and ask that purchasers return the product to it or throw it away. Usually, customers will receive a full refund or replacement. A public relations campaign may also deal with the recall’s publicity.

Recalls may also prohibit the sale of the product. Other recalls may request consumers to voluntarily return a defective product for replacement or repair. Sometimes, especially in vehicle recalls, a manufacturer may provide a new part or makes a diagnosis that lowers the product’s danger.


In the last several years, tens of millions of vehicles were recalled because of concerns over defective Takata air bags. Long-term exposure to high heat and humidity could make the air bags explode when they were deployed, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This recall included prioritizing repairs because replacement parts were not fully available, and some vehicles were at higher risk of explosion.

Mattel, Fischer-Price, and other toymakers were involved in another recall in the mid-2000s. There was excessive lead in the paint of the recalled products that were manufactured overseas.


Product recall risks for manufacturers include product liability lawsuits and government prosecution.  Manufacturers can help prevent recalls through promoting product safety and conducting proper product management of manufacturing, sales, design, quality, testing and product use.

They should also develop procedures for tracking the products that were sold by lot number or production period. This process could be expedited by having consumers fill out registration cards containing model and style numbers and any special features. Using accurate records and product labeling can help producers isolate defective products and help restrict the recall’s extent.

A consumer injured by a defective product may be entitled to compensation. An attorney can help gather evidence and pursue their rights in a legal action.