Product Recall Information for Consumers


A recall is the process of addressing defects found in specific products. In most cases, the decision to issue a recall is voluntarily made by the manufacturer of the defective product. However, a government agency can induce, or even order, a recall in certain cases.

Which agency has authority over a recall depends on the category in which the product belongs. provides a one-stop shop for recall research and links to agencies’ websites:

  • U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) oversees recall of appliances, clothing, electronics, furniture, household products, children’s products, lighting, outdoor tools, and sports and exercise equipment.

  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation handles recalls of motor vehicles, auto parts and child safety seats.

  • U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) investigates consumer claims about maritime products, such as recreational boats and related equipment.

  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issues recalls on animal-derived foods, including meats, poultry and eggs.

  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration conducts recall of other types of foods, animal feed, pet food, veterinary products, pharmaceuticals, vaccines, medical devices, biologics, blood, blood plasma and cosmetics.

  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has jurisdiction over products that affect the environment, for example pesticides, rodenticides, fungicides and vehicle emissions.

A recall may advise consumers to return a product in exchange for:

  • Free repair of the problem
  • Replacement with the upgraded, safe version of the product
  • Full refund

Products that are deemed seriously dangerous may be removed entirely from the market — for example, adulterated beef, a contaminated drug, a highly toxic household cleanser, a children’s toy that poses a choking hazard or a household appliance prone to fire.

Just because a product is not on the recall list, however, does not necessarily mean it is safe. Often, multiple people are injured or killed by a defective product before the recall process even begins.




Topics:  Coast Guard, CPSC, EPA, FDA, NHTSA, Product Recalls, USDA

Published In: Consumer Protection Updates, Products Liability Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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