Seems like every time I turn the television on lately... there is a new recall. 2010 started with the big Toyota and Tylenol recalls ... and then within the past month, McDonald's asked customers to return 12 million Shrek glasses... Campbell Soup asked that we return 15 million pounds of Spaghetti-Os... 2 million cribs were recalled by 7 crib manufacturers... and Kellogg's warned us about 28 million boxes of Froot Loops and other cereals. Doctor's offices were even dinged for handing out trinkets with Cadmium as a treat for good little boys and girls. Frighteningly... those products we heard about are just a fraction of the items that were recalled in the United States just over the last month.
Most of us never even find out if a product we own, use or are planning to consume has been recalled. Even though the government maintains a massive recall site at www.recalls.gov... and a SmartPhone app makes it possible to check for recalls as you shop. Seems like overload to me! If you paid attention to every recall notice that comes out, it would be more than a full time job.
So it's obvious that the national recall system that we have simply doesn't work. The easy part is getting the items pulled from the shelves. The hard part is dealing with those items that are already in our homes. It's been noted that the best way to deal with this is for the manufacturers to notify the consumers directly... so they are aware that a particular recall applies to them. Well... that's one thing to have a car manufacturer use registration information provided at the time of purchase to notify me when my brakes are defective... but I really don't want to complete a registration card for each can of SpaghettiOs or box of Froot Loops I buy... do you?
Notification concerns were behind a new federal law that took effect this week that requires manufacturers of durable baby and toddler items (such as bathtubs, cribs and high chairs) to include registration cards with those products. But what guarantee is there that they will be completed and returned? Brings to mind the registration card I just pitched for the new entertainment center in my den!
Another alternative is that all stores be responsible to maintain customer information and track purchases, similar to Costco, so that notification is easy in the event of a recall. However, do you want your health insurance provider to have easy access to each bag of potato chips you purchased so they can refuse your high cholesterol treatment? Thought so... :) A blog post for another day ;)