The products liability attorneys of Passen & Powell often speak out on the frequent failure of various types of companies to provide adequate, timely information to U.S. regulators, and the failure of those regulators to adequately supervise these companies, follow up on the information they receive, and issue prompt, necessary recalls.
But when recalls are issued, they do no good unless the consumers who have purchased the defective or deadly products are aware of the recall. Now, a new poll by Consumer Reports National Research Center and published in Consumer Reports indicating that, by and large, crucial recall safety information is not reaching the consumers who need to hear it.
Not that consumers aren’t concerned about recalled, potentially dangerous products. Some segments of the U.S. population, of course, are more concerned than others. Predictably, parents – particularly the parents of preschoolers and school-aged children – were among those most worried about missing important recall announcements, with 26 percent reporting that they worried about this issue.
But also, surprisingly, the young were more worried about these issues than the old. More than twenty-five percent of Americans aged eighteen to twenty-four, typically not thought of as the most cautious age range, were concerned about missing recall notices. But less than seventeen percent of Americans aged sixty-five or older shared these concerns. Our Chicago personal injury lawyers were surprised to see such a low level of concern among our nation’s seniors.
There were also varying levels of concern depending on the type or products involved. The poll found that consumers were generally quite concerned that parents receive adequate notice of recalls to children’s products, regardless of the type. But when it came to products designed for adults, most Americans were highly concerned that consumers receive information about food and medicine recalls, but less concerned about recalls of other products, like clothing and sporting goods.
But this consumer concern simply did not translate into the receipt of accurate information by the American public. In spite of the literally tens of millions of products recalled over the past three years, the poll found that only around twenty percent of Americans were aware of having purchased a recalled product (excluding cars) in that time frame.
And of those twenty percent who were aware of having purchased a recalled product, the types of products involved were quite limited. As our products liability attorneys are only too well aware, recalled products span all types of products, from cribs to window blinds, from sweatshirts to sporting goods, from drinking glasses to sunglasses. Yet almost 40 percent of those aware of purchasing a recalled product were only aware of having purchased recalled food, and another close to forty percent were only aware of having purchased recalled medication.
Moreover, our nation’s consumers are overly dependent upon the whims of our nation’s journalists to keep them informed of recalls. A majority of those who learned that they had purchased a recalled medication or product, and almost two-thirds of those who learned that they had purchased recalled food, learned about the recall from the news. By contrast, only one-sixth learned about a recalled product from the product’s manufacturer.
While we are pleased that so many Americans are learning about dangerous products from news reports. But our experienced products liability attorneys are highly concerned about what this source of information leaves out. Product recalls in one form or another are generally issued several times a week, sometimes on a nearly daily basis, and the vast majority of these recalls are not sensational enough to receive news coverage. Consumers who have purchased these products are thus left unprotected.
Our nation simply cannot rely upon this spotty and inconsistent method for keeping consumers informed of the dangerous products in their homes, garages, medicine cabinets and refrigerators. While the attorneys of Passen & Powell are pleased with recent advances in this area, such as CPSC email alerts, clearly enough has not yet been done. The CPSC, together with manufacturers, must develop better procedures and practices for ensuring that consumers are aware of dangerous, recalled products.
For a Free Consultation with a top-rated Chicago product injury lawyer at Passen & Powell, call us at (312) 527-4500.