Product Recall: What are they?- S3, E6
You may have seen an announcement for product recalls on the news or even received notice of a recall from a product you’ve bought in the past. It’s critical to stay up to date about these recalls so that you can have a safe and healthy home environment.
Jessica sits down with Teresa Murray, the Consumer Watchdog for the Arizona PIRG Education Fund and author of the Safe At Home Product recalls report, to find out more about product recalls and tools parents can use to easily get recall alerts.
Host: Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez
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Host: Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez is the Chief of the Office of Children’s Health at the Arizona Department of Health Services. She is married, has two young children, and loves reading (anything except parenting books!) and watching movies and TV. She loves to spend time with her kids (when they aren’t driving her crazy) and celebrating all of their little, and big, accomplishments. Jessica has been in the field of family and child development for over 20 years, working towards normalizing the hard work of parenting and making it easier to ask the hard questions.
Guest: Teresa Murray, the Consumer Watchdog for the Arizona PIRG Education Fund and author of the Safe At Home Product
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Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: [00:00:00] Welcome to the Parenting Brief. I’m your host, Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez, an [00:00:10] Arizona working mom and Chief of the Office of Children’s Health at the Arizona Department of Health Services. Parenting a little one can make you feel a little turned around at times. It’s a constant game of [00:00:20] charades and hoping you got it right. But that’s why we’re here, to help you through life’s little challenges. If you have parenting questions about safe sleep, breastfeeding, and so much more, [00:00:30] you’re in the right place.
Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: Thank you for joining me on this [00:00:40] episode of the Parenting Brief. Our homes should be a safe place for our little ones to rest, recharge, and explore the world. But totally normal things we keep in our house, like [00:00:50] furniture, toys, appliances, can have defects that can be dangerous to yourself and your family.
Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: It’s why it’s important to understand product recalls, what they are, and how to find out if [00:01:00] something you have has been recalled. We have what you need to know, up next.
Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: Today we [00:01:10] welcome back Teresa Murray, the Consumer Watchdog for the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, and author of the Safe at Home? Product Recalls Report. Teresa joined us on the show last [00:01:20] December with toy safety tips, and today we’re talking about the ins and outs of product recalls. Thank you for joining us again, Teresa.
Teresa Murray: Thanks for having us.
Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: So, to [00:01:30] start, what does it mean exactly when a product is recalled and how soon after a problem is identified does it take for an issue to be resolved or for it to come out as a [00:01:40] recall?
Teresa Murray: Well, I’ll answer the second part of your question first. It takes way too long, but we’ll come back to that.
Teresa Murray: So, a product recall is anything that [00:01:50] is on the market basically that is regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which the CPSC regulates about 15,000 products [00:02:00] and everything from A to Z, so appliances to zippers and everything in between. Electronics, toys, appliances, TVs, clothing, [00:02:10] power tools.
Teresa Murray: I mean, just about everything except for food and medications and vehicles, pretty much. So, you know, with 15,000 different types of [00:02:20] product categories, you know, because you could have like 10 kinds of air fryers. Well, that’s just one product category. But with all these bazillions of products on the [00:02:30] market, sometimes they don’t work so well.
Teresa Murray: And when enough complaints come into the CPSC or go into the company itself, or people end up going to [00:02:40] hospitals or doctors, then at some point, they realize, you know, the company and or the CPSC realizes, oh hey, we have a dangerous product here. And then they [00:02:50] begin a process to start to recall it, but oftentimes, unfortunately, it is a process and not necessarily a quick fix.
Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: So, what are [00:03:00] some of the most common reasons that we see for a recall, especially in those products for children or available to children, such as toys or clothing? [00:03:10] And is there a way for parents to know if something is potentially dangerous before that recall is issued, especially if it takes so long for that recall to be issued?
Teresa Murray: Well, last [00:03:20] year, we analyzed 292 product recalls that were filed with the CPSC or filed by the CPSC in 2022, and then we also [00:03:30] analyzed more than 3,600 consumer complaints just to kind of see the trend lines. But as far as the recalls, the leading reasons for recalls, number [00:03:40] one, far and away, was risk of fire.
Teresa Murray: Number two was risk of poisoning. And number three was because they’re a choking hazard. And then the fourth one was [00:03:50] because of excessive levels of lead. So, there’s stricter standards for children’s products. Whether it’s a toy, or an eating utensil, or a piece of clothing. They have to [00:04:00] meet much more restrictive standards when the product is intended for a child.
Teresa Murray: As opposed to like, you know, shoes that you and I would wear. Or something electronic that [00:04:10] you and I would use in our homes. But if it’s something that’s intended for a child, then there are many more restrictions on that product.
Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: And is there a way for parents [00:04:20] to know or to be aware that something may have a higher risk of being recalled before that recall is even [00:04:30] issued?
Teresa Murray: Well, one of the first things I would do if I had, especially with children, because I mean, you know, they’re more vulnerable and they’re more likely to take chances or [00:04:40] something with a product. But if I was going to buy a product for my child, whether it was, you know, something for sleeping or whether it was a toy or a piece [00:04:50] of clothing I would go and research it and one of the places I would research it would be on SaferProducts.gov, and you can just do a keyword search and [00:05:00] it doesn’t have to be like the specific, you know, all of the brand information, the model number, all that junk. Just type in what you know, and you can see if there have been reports [00:05:10] already of that product or something by that company, and in most cases, the complaints that are on there, those products have not yet been recalled.[00:05:20]
Teresa Murray: But that is an early heads up for you. Oh, gosh, this thing, you know, look at all these complaints that have come in in the last six months. Yeah, maybe I won’t buy that product. I mean, it could be [00:05:30] perfectly fine, but I wouldn’t buy it if I saw all these complaints about it. So that’s one big thing that people can do.
Teresa Murray: And then piggybacking on that, I really recommend [00:05:40] that even if you bought a product and you, you know, you investigated it, you researched it two years ago and it’s something that’s still in your home and the kid plays with it all the time or you [00:05:50] have a younger sibling that’s playing with this product or using this product now, is again, go on SaferProducts.Gov and look and see, gee, since I bought this, has it been [00:06:00] recalled or have there been a lot of complaints?
Teresa Murray: Because then you can say, well, gosh, maybe it was safe when I first bought it, but maybe it’s not now. And that’s the most important thing that parents can [00:06:10] do.
Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: What is the best way to be alerted after that recall does happen? You know, if you’re checking in every six months, but that [00:06:20] recall happens in month two after you’ve done your research, is there a way to be alerted of possible recalls between the time that the [00:06:30] parents are taking to look up those products? Because it can be time consuming to look up everything and see what the reviews are.
Teresa Murray: Yes, you’re absolutely right. Yeah, there’s actually a pretty easy [00:06:40] way, is they can go to cpsc.gov/Recalls and sign up for email alerts when [00:06:50] there are recalls.
Teresa Murray: Now the good news, well the bad news is that there’s about 300 product recalls a year, which is like every 30 hours, there’s a product recall. And you’re like, oh, wait a minute, [00:07:00] Teresa, I don’t want my phone dinging, my inbox dinging every 30 hours. Well, in general, the CPSC puts out recalls once a week.
Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: Oh, okay.
Teresa Murray: Every Thursday [00:07:10] morning, they put out recalls. And last there’s something that’s, you know, hugely urgent, then they will issue that in and of itself independently. [00:07:20]
Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: Take a look at the show notes to read the full Safe at Home? Product Recalls [00:07:30] Report. If you’re interested in learning more tips to keep your kiddos safe while they’re growing up, go ahead and follow this show on your podcast player so you never miss an episode. Until next time, [00:07:40] this is Jessica. You’ve got this.