A product recall is a request from a manufacturer 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:
Maker or dealer notifies the authorities responsible of their intention to recall a product. In some cases the government can also request a recall of a product. Consumer hotlines or other communication channels are established. The scope of the recall, that is, which serial numbers or batch numbers etc. are recalled, is often specified.
Product recall announcements are released on the respective government agency's website (if applicable), as well as in paid notices in the metropolitan daily newspapers. In some circumstances, heightened publicity will also result in news television reports advising of the recall.
When a consumer group learns of a recall it will also notify the public by various means.
Typically, the consumer is advised to return the goods, regardless of condition, to the seller for a full refund or modification.
Avenues for possible consumer compensation will vary depending on the specific laws governing consumer trade protection and the cause of recall.
Highlights of major product recalls (1958-present)
USA 1959-60 Cadillacs.
UK (August 1973): The Triumph Toledo, Triumph 1500 and Triumph Dolomite were the subject of the UK's largest vehicle recall to date. The recall affected 103,000 cars and involved the replacement of a front radius strut in the front suspension assembly, addressing a risk that the component might break and render the car impossible to steer. The manufacturers stated they had replicated the alleged defect by driving the car into a solid kerb at between 10 and 15 mph (16–24 km/h). Despite undertaking the recall, they insisted that the condition could only "arise through misuse".
USA (August 1973): The Little Wonder TV antenna was recalled by the CPSC. It was one of the earliest recalls of an electronic device. The product connected the antenna terminals on the back of the TV directly to the AC mains.
USA (October 1982): Tylenol Scare of 1982
(USA) Late 1982-McDonald's recalled 10 million Playmobil Happy Meal toys due to the risk of choking hazards.
USA (1986): 1986 Excedrin Tampering A few bottles of Excedrin were poisoned with cyanide. 2 people died, and 1 recovered in the hospital. A woman named Stella Nickell was charged with product tampering, attempted murder and murder. She was sentenced to 90 years in prison.
Worldwide (1994) : Intel recalled the original Pentium processors due to the Pentium FDIV bug.
Worldwide (late 1999) Audi recalled the original Audi TT Mk1 both Coupé and Roadster due to crashes and related fatalities that occurred at speeds in excess of 180 kilometres per hour (110 mph), during abrupt lane changes or sharp turns.
USA (Early 2000): Burger King organized a recall of 25 million plastic container toys resembling Poké Balls as they presented a suffocation hazard.
Taco shells manufactured for Taco Bell recalled
USA (May 2000): Ford Motor Company's handling of the recall of the 6.5 million 15-inch Firestone tires fitted to the Ford Explorer SUV soon culminated in the resignation of Ford's CEO at the time, Jacques Nasser. (See Firestone vs Ford Motor Company controversy.)
November 2000-February 2001: McDonald's recalled 234,000 of the Scooter Bug Happy Meal toys due to the risk of choking hazards.
Australia (April 2003): The recall of a variety of goods manufactured by Pan Pharmaceuticals as a result of failures in quality assurance and standards. The company was soon put under receivership.
United Kingdom and Canada (February 2005): Potentially carcinogenic Sudan I food colouring was found in over 400 products containing Worcester sauce and had to be recalled.
Worldwide:June 2005: Engine stalls linked to faulty wirings on 6.0L Powerstroke Diesel engines have caused hundreds of thousands of 2004-2005 Ford Super Duty, Excursion, and Econoline models to be recalled.
Ireland and United Kingdom (24 June 2006): Cadbury-Schweppes announced that there had been a salmonella scare surrounding its products, causing millions of chocolate bars from stores across Ireland and the UK to be recalled.
2006 Sony notebook computer batteries recall: Worldwide: August 2006: Dell recalls over four million notebook computer batteries, after a number of instances where the batteries, made by Sony, overheated or caught fire. Most of the defective notebooks were sold in the US, however some one million faulty batteries could be found elsewhere in the world. August 2006: Following Dell's battery recall Apple Computer also recalls 1.8 million Sony notebook computer batteries. Similar to Dell, most of the notebooks were sold in the United States. However some 700,000 units could be found overseas. September 2006: Matsushita (Panasonic) recalls 6,000 batteries. September 2006: Toshiba recalls 340,000 batteries. September 2006: IBM/Lenovo recalls 500,000 batteries. October 2006: Hitachi recalls 16,000 batteries. October 2006: Fujitsu recalls 338,000 batteries. October 2006: Sharp recalls 28,000 batteries.
Worldwide: February 2007: Lenovo and Sanyo recalls 200,000 batteries.
North America: March 2007: Menu Foods and several other companies issue numerous pet food recalls.
USA: April 2007: Nestlé voluntarily recalled its "Caramel Kit Kat Chunky" bars and "KitKat Cookie Dough Chocolate" bars due to some bits of hard plastic being found in the chocolate.
USA: June 2007: Foreign Tire Sales Inc. recalls tires imported from Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber Co., of Hangzhou, China. The tires were not made to safety standards to prevent tread separation, a problem that led to the nation's largest tire recall in 2000 by Ford Motor Company. Foreign Tire Sales Inc., was unable to comply with the recall due to its limited resources. Further, Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber doesn't have accountability for a recall since the company is based solely in China and sells in the US through third-party re-sellers.
Worldwide: June 2007: The Thomas and Friends Wooden Railway toys were recalled due to risks of lead poisoning from the paint used on the train cars and locomotives included in the toys.
USA: July 13, 2007: Gerber recalled Organic Rice Cereal and Organic Oatmeal Cereal after a Tampa, Florida parent, Richard Andree, found approximately 30 hard chunks, some of which were a ½ inch long in the product.
Worldwide: August 14, 2007: Nokia recalled 46 Million BL-5C batteries after a primary investigation which revealed faulty manufactured batteries by Matsushita Electric Corporation which could explode after short circuit
USA: August 30, 2007: Some organic chocolates made in China were recalled because of worms found inside the chocolate.
USA: In October 2007 ground beef from the Topps Meat Company of Elizabeth, New Jersey was recalled. As of 2007, this was the second-largest beef recall in United States history.
Worldwide: September 2007: Honda Motor Company recalled 182,756 2006-2007 Honda Civic sedans and coupes for wheel bearings
Worldwide: October 2007: Alltrade Tools recalls over 800,000 power tool chargers.
USA: In October 2007 several U.S. Pharmaceutical companies voluntarily recalled several infant cough and cold medicines due to possible overdosing dangers.
Worldwide: November 2007: A popular children's toy, Bindeez (also known as Aqua Dots, in the United States), was recalled when it was discovered that 1,4-butanediol had been substituted for 1,5-pentanediol in the bead manufacturing process. The human body metabolises the substance to form the anesthetic GHB.
USA: November 2007: Children's snow and sand castle kits by Paricon recalled due to sharp edges; sold exclusively at L. L. Bean
Worldwide: November 2007: About 175,000 Curious George 12-inch plush dolls with plastic faces were recalled due to the risk of lead exposure and poisoning.
February 2008: The USDA recalled 143 million pounds of processed frozen beef (the largest beef recall in US history) from the Westland/Hallmark processor in Southern California due to cattle not being inspected before slaughter. There was little chance of any illness in the cattle.
April 2008: Malt-O-Meal voluntarily recalls its Puffed Rice and Puffed Wheat cold cereal products due to salmonella contamination.
August 2008: Maple Leaf Foods voluntarily recalled a number of meat and deli products after an outbreak of listeriosis. Four elderly people have died as a result. Affected restaurants include McDonald's and Mr. Sub.
January - Peanut Corporation of America recalled its bulk peanut butter and peanut paste products for salmonella contamination. Because of the myriad of consumer items PCA's bulk products went into, the Food and Drug Administration eventually recalled 3913 different products from at least 361 companies - one of the most extensive food recalls in US history.
March - Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella, California recalled its entire 2008 crop of pistachios due to salmonella contamination.
October - some Acer Aspire laptops recalled for overheating problems.
December - virtually every Roman blind and roller shade on the market—around 50 million sets—were recalled because the cords pose a strangulation hazard to children.
January - Toyota recalls several million vehicles because of faulty throttle pedals that may cause runaway acceleration and faulty software that may cause braking to be delayed.
USA: March: - Carter's, Inc. recalls infant clothing and zippers due to Choking Hazard
May - Johnson & Johnson recalls 43 over-the-counter children's medicines made by McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, on April 30, 2010.
June - Maytag recalls about 1.7 million dishwashers, including Maytag(r), Jenn-Air(r), Magic Chef(r), and several other brands due to the electrical failure and fire hazards.
June - Ikea recalled 3.36 million "roller" and "roman" shades due to strangulation hazards.
June - Kellogg issued a voluntary recall of select packages of Kellogg's Corn Pops, Honey Smacks, Froot Loops and Apple Jacks cereals due to "an uncharacteristic waxy-like taste and smell" caused by an unnamed substance in the package liners. The taste of the contaminated boxes was described as "stale, metal, and soap-like" by consumers.
August - 228 million eggs are voluntarily recalled by Wright County Egg of Galt, Iowa due to a potential salmonella contamination.
September 23 - Similac Abbott Laboratories issued a voluntary recall of up to 5 million containers of Similac infant formula after finding beetles in the formula. ISSUE: Possibility of the presence of a small common beetle in the product. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determined that the formula containing these beetles posed no immediate health risk, there was a possibility that infants who consumed the formula could experience symptoms of gastrointestinal discomfort and refusal to eat as a result of small insect parts irritating the GI tract. The voluntary recall affected milk- and soy-based formulas distributed in the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, and some Caribbean nations. At least 12 of the recalled products were provided to families through the federal government’s Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) health and nutrition program. The FDA reassured caregivers and families whose babies may have consumed these products that drinking the formula will not cause long-term health problems.
January - Nature's Promise Giant Food of Landover, Md. issued a voluntary recall of several Nature's Promise organic bagged salad items due to the potential for listeria contamination. there was a report of a pregnant woman in her 20s being rushed to the hospital after eating tainted salad. No deaths reported.
February - U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a recall 20,000 of Sniglar Cribs, distributed by IKEA Home Furnishings due to the detach and collapse of the Mattress, creating a risk of entrapment and suffocation to a child in the crib.
February - Honda Motor Co issued a voluntary safety recall of 700,000 cars due to the failure. The spring was placed improperly in a small box inside the engine, so that, in some cases, the problem could cause the engine to stall. No crashes or injuries have been reported related to this defect.
February - Study on Medical device recall by Dr. Diana Zuckerman and Paul Brown of the National Research Center for Women and Families, and Dr. Steven Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, showed that most medical devices recalled in the last five years for “serious health problems or death” had been previously approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) using the less stringent, and cheaper, 501(k) process.
March - Toyota Motor Corp issued a recall about 22,000 sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks over tire-deflation monitoring systems that could cause failure. No such crashes or injuries were reported.
March - Dairy Crest recalled one batch of its Frijj Thick and Fresh Strawberry milkshake due to low levels of listeria.
May - Nestlé Philippines recalled two batches of Maggi beef and chicken noodles after it was reported that it was contaminated with salmonella.
June 28, 2011 - McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a division of McNEIL-PPC, Inc., recalled at the retail level one product lot (60,912 bottles) of Tylenol, Extra Strength Caplets, 225 count bottles, manufactured in February 2009 and distributed in the U.S. McNeil took this action following a small number of reports of musty, moldy, or other odor. The uncharacteristic smell has been linked to the presence of trace amounts of a chemical known as 2,4,6-tribromoanisole (TBA). Tylenol, Extra Strength Caplets, 225 count Lot # ABA619 with UPC Code 300450444271.
August - National Beef Packing Company recalled about 60,424 pounds of ground beef products contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 (the most well-known of the enteropathogenic strains).
December - Tyson Fresh Meats (part of Tyson Foods) recalled 40 thousand pounds of ground beef in sixteen states. A sample of the 80/20 Ground Beef Chuck produced on 24 October tested positive for E. coli at the company's Nebraska plant.
December-Tech For Kids recalled snow bikes due to the risk of a fall hazard.
March - Imported Frescolina brand ricotta salata cheese was recalled after at least three of fourteen people sickened by it (diagnosed between Mar. 28 and Aug. 30 in 11 states) died.
September - Trader Joe's and SunLand peanut butter products were recalled due to a salmonella scare.
November- Kenny's farmhouse 4 cheeses were recalled due to listeria.
USA: February: Kellogg Company recalls over 30,000 boxes of Special K Red Berries cereal due to glass fragments.
USA: March: - Toys R Us recalls Bell cycling helmets due to faulty strap buckles that could pose a head injury risk in an accident
USA: March: - Honda recalls 183,000 vehicles due to concerns that they could brake unexpectedly due to a fault in their electronic stability control systems. A further 381,000 vehicles in the US and worldwide were recalled later in the year due to the same issue.
USA: July: Big Lots recalled Christmas tree lights due to fire hazard.
Worldwide: August: - Sleepharmony recalls pink beds due to lead levels in their paint exceeding limits under US consumer law.
Worldwide: September: Pillsbury Company recalled Cinnamon Rolls due to plastic pieces in the cinnamon rolls.
October - Kids II, Inc. recalled 400,000 Baby Einstein Musical Motion Activity Jumpers due to the risk of an impact hazard.
October - Hachette Book Group recalled 70,000 children's books due to the risk of choking and laceration hazards.
USA: December: - Landscape Structures recalls its Oodle swing following injuries to nine children as a result of inadequate space between the bottom of the swing and the ground
Worldwide: December: - Michelin recalls 1.2m tires fitted as original equipment to the Ford E-Series and other Ford trucks and sedans due to reports of the tire treads separating from the belt causing damage to the vehicles
April-IKEA recalled 255,000 children's bed canopies due to the risk of strangulation hazards.
April-Walmart recalled 174,000 My Sweet Love Cuddle Care baby dolls due to the risk of a burn hazard.
April-Playtex recalled 305,000 infant carriers due to the risk of a fall hazard.
May - Office Depot recalled 1.4 million office chairs due to the risk of a fall hazard.
November 2014, McDonald's recalled 2.3 million Hello Kitty birthday-themed plastic figure Happy Meal toys holding a pink heart-shaped lollipop including a red plastic toy whistle that was due to the risk of a choking hazard.
December 2014, Graco recalled 4.7 million strollers due to the risk of a laceration and amputation hazard.
December 2014, Toys R Us recalled 19,000 Koala children's sandals with butterfly wings due to the risk of a choking hazard.
On May 19, 2015, Takata announces the recall of 34 million air-bags, which is one of the largest auto defects of all time.
In May 2015, Lee's Sandwiches recalled 441,000 pounds (200,000 kg) of beef, pork, and chicken produced at its Garden Grove, California, facility, due to an investigation by the federal Food Safety and Inspection Service into meat that was falsely stamped with another facility's inspection mark.
On 3 June 2015, the Beats Pill XL speaker has been recalled due to fire hazard.
On 23 February 2016, Mars Incorporated recalled chocolate from 55 different countries, after a German customer found plastic in a Snickers bar in February.
In April 2016, CRF Frozen Foods recalled over 400 frozen food products due to listeria outbreak that sickened 8 people.
April, 2016, Pilgrim's Pride recalled more than 4.5 million pounds of fully cooked chicken products due to contamination of wood, metal, plastic, and rubber.
May 27, 2016, Maruti Suzuki recalled 75,419 units of the Baleno hatchback (petrol and diesel) to upgrade its airbag controller software of which 17,231 units are exports.
May 31, 2016, General Mills recall of flour that sickened people with pathogenic E. coli, eventually reaching 45 million pounds, begins.
June, 2016, SunOpta recalled dozens of products based on sunflower seeds due to Listeria concerns.
July 6, 2016, IKEA recalled chocolate candy products due to allergen contamination. Samples analyzed were found to contain undeclared milk, almond, and hazelnut.
July 15, 2016, ConAgra recalls 200,000 pounds of frozen P. F. Chang's meals due to metal fragments.
September 11, 2016, Nissan recalled 134,000 Maxima and Murano vehicles due to fire hazard.
September 18, 2016, Koffee Kup Bakery recalled 99,000 bread products after consumers reported that there are some clear plastic pieces in some products.
September 21, 2016, Blue Bell Creameries recalled two flavors of the Cookie Dough ice cream due to listeria concerns after three people died from consuming the contaminated ice cream.
October 10, 2016, Kraft Heinz recalled the Lunchables Ham and Cheese Stackers products due to misbranding and undeclared allergens.
October 10, 2016, Mars, Incorporated recalled Cesar Classics filet mignon dog food after a customer found small plastic pieces in the product.
October 11, 2016 Samsung stopped production of the problematic Galaxy Note 7 devices for nine months and have recalled the supposedly "safe" devices because they were still catching fire or exploding
November 19, 2016, Taylor Farms recalled 57 varieties of hummus produced under the Sabra brand name due to Listeria concerns.
December 2, 2016 Valley Milk Products of Strasburg, Virginia recalled all its outstanding products after armed US Marshals seized over 4 million pounds of dry milk and buttermilk powder adulterated with Salmonella Meleagridis. Valley Milk had resisted the FDA's request to do a voluntary recall.
June 22, 2017: Mazda North American Operations and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a recall for 227,814 Mazda 3s and Mazda 6s after finding problems with their parking brake calipers.
February 5, 2018: IKEA recalled all of their Ikea brand marshmallow candy (GODIS PÅSKKYCKLING) due to possible bacteria contamination from mice infestation. All customers were advised to return them to the nearest IKEA store or discard them immediately.
July 11, 2018: IKEA recalled their IKEA brand (LURVIG) pet water dispensers due to a suffocation hazard to pets. Customers were advised to discontinue use and return the pet water dispensers to the nearest IKEA store.
July 24, 2018: Cadillac issued a recall on all Cadillac CT6 vehicles that were manufactured between September 4, 2015, and September 21, 2017, due to an excess adhesive interfering with the lower LATCH child restraint anchors. Owners of affected vehicles were recommended to install child restraints with the seat belts until the recall is repaired from the lower LATCH child restraint anchors.
Recalls by industry
In general, the number of recalls has been increasing – with an exception during the economic crisis of 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. Since 1966, 390 million motor vehicles have been recalled in the USA.
Over 3000 food products were recalled in the US in 2016 according to the US Food and Drug Administration Enforcement reports. Individual recall events caused by contamination from foreign bodies (physical contamination from metal, glass, plastic, wood etc.) has increased by 76% in 2016 compared with 2015. This increase in 2016 is even more marked when looking at the number of products recalled (as opposed to recall event) due to foreign body contamination. In 2016 there were 422 products recalled due to foreign body contamination, whilst in 2015 there were 108; almost a 300% increase.
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.
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.
Snack food recall
On July 23, 2018 Pepperidge Farm announced that the Flavor Blasted Xtra Cheddar Goldfish crackers were being recalled due to possible salmonella contamination in the whey powder used on them. This recall also affected the Flavor Blasted Sour Cream and Onion, Whole Grain Xtra Cheddar, and Xtra Cheddar and Pretzel varieties.
Also more snack products were recalled for various safety reasons. Mondelēz Global LLC recalled all Ritz Crackers products that are containing whey after traces of salmonella were detected on the whey powder. The recall includes Ritz cheese cracker sandwiches and mixed cookie and cracker variety packs. Flower Foods recalled all of their Swiss Rolls products sold under the H-E-B, Food Lion, Mrs. Freshley's, Baker's Treat, Market Square, and Great Value brands due to contamination of salmonella. John Derst's Old Fashioned Bread was also affected by the recall. Pinnacle Foods, Inc. issued a recall on all Hungry Man BBQ boneless chicken wing products due to salmonella being detected in the whey powder of the ranch dressing.
Duty to warn
FDA Recall Classification Levels
Track and trace