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Product Safety Recalls Have Reached Unprecedented Levels, but Manufacturers Still Slow to Protect Consumers

A record 51 million vehicles were recalled in 2015, while food-related recalls have doubled since 2002. Meanwhile, the Consumer Product Safety Commission announces, on average, one recall every day.

Among the trends responsible for this spike in recall notices, we can thank better detection tools that spot problems that frequently went undetected before. For example, CRF Frozen Foods’ recent produce recall was spurred by whole genome sequencing performed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission that linked a strain of listeria directly to the company’s products. Such high-tech procedures were simply not possible until recently.

Recalls are one thing, but the more challenging and important task is pressing companies to do a better job of identifying problems and alerting customers about dangerous products. Product recalls are coordinated by a patchwork of federal and state agencies, so it’s easy for critical safety concerns to fall through the cracks. The most centralized notification site,, is an incomplete and ineffective guide.

tire-safety-recallAt Farrar & Ball, we know this too well. Dozens of time a year, we see families whose lives have been touched by tragedy as a result of defective products, including recalled defective tires. The tire industry has known for years that there are better and more efficient ways to alert consumers about dangerous and defective tires. But because of a flawed and archaic tire recall system, millions of dangerous recalled tires remain on the roads and on store shelves.

With this cumbersome system, it’s the responsibility of individual motorists to check the federal NHTSA website, which posts recalls by a tire’s brand and model. But that’s just the start. From there, it’s a tedious and time consuming exercise to cross reference DOT TIN numbers and manufacture date ranges to determine whether a particular tire is a match. It really makes us wonder why the tire industry has been so reluctant to create a simple, user-friendly searchable database. Until tire manufacturers and the tire lobby take safety concerns over profit, we will continue to use the civil court system to hold product manufacturers accountable for the actions.


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