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The rise in recalls of defective products in the U.S.

This blog recently discussed both the dangers and concerns associated with defective products when manufacturers fail to provide proper warnings. From food items to household items and cars, a variety of products have been recalled recently. Manufacturers have recalled thousands of products this year. Across nearly every product category, product recalls are on the rise and recalls are not expected to end. The Consumer Product Safety Commission, for instance, announces one food recall each day and annual food safety recalls have doubled since 2002.

According to experts, the increase in recalls is due to an increased focus on product and consumer safety. Better methods of detection and stricter safety rules are leading to a greater number of product recalls contributing to the improvement in public safety. Manufacturing changes, and fewer supplies, have also led to an increase in larger recalls. Interconnected supply chains have left to more complex recalls and recall efforts.

For instance, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has also been handling the complex and massive Takata airbag recall which impacts as many as one in four of the 250 million vehicles on the road in the U.S. today. The defective airbags present an exploding risk and have been linked to 13 deaths worldwide and impact 14 automakers. In total, 29 million airbag inflators have been recalled and 35 million more are expected to be recalled.

Of perhaps equal concern to the dangers the airbags themselves present, however, is that the parts to fix the defective airbags are not available. The helpfulness of automakers in relation to the recall varies and many consumers continue to nervously wait and drive vehicles with recalled airbags in the meantime without any other good option. Because of the size of the recall, some cars may not be recalled until 2019. The NHTSA has set a goal of 100 percent repair rate for the airbag recall. While the scope of many recalls has been staggering, fewer children's products are being recalled.

All in all, companies are being encouraged to better identify problems and notify customers. Many purchases are more traceable and companies are using a variety of means to contact consumers to notify them of recalls including letters, emails, phone calls and text messages. There are several levels of protection for consumers harmed by dangerous or defective products and it is important that victims are familiar with all their options, depending on their needs, which can also include pursuing damages through the legal process for the harm suffered.

Source: New York Times, "Product Recalls Rise With Better Detection and Fewer Suppliers," Stacy Cowley, May 29, 2016

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