Sometimes certain defects in a product become apparent after the product has entered the marketplace and been sold. These defects can be related to safety, such as when a certain model of automobile has problems with its braking system, where small pieces from a toy pose a choking hazard to young children, or where a medication poses a previously undiscovered, serious adverse health risk to users. Sometimes the problem is another kind of defect, as when a certain model of vacuum cleaner consistently fails to work properly. A recall may be necessary to remedy problems with a product. Recalls are procedures taken by a manufacturer to remove a product from the market. Recalls allow a manufacturer the opportunity to repair or replace the defective product. Recalls can be costly procedures for manufacturers, but are often less costly than multiple lawsuits or the loss of goodwill among consumers. Recalls may be voluntary on the part of a manufacturer, or they may be mandated by the government.
Six agencies within the U.S. government have jurisdiction over recalls:
- The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has jurisdiction over thousands of products used in homes, schools, and for sports and recreation
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has oversight over food, drugs, medical devices, animal feed, cosmetics, and radiation-emitting products such as lasers, micro-waves, and cell phones
- The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspects and regulates meat, poultry products, and eggs and egg products
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is responsible for recalls of motor vehicles and related equipment, child safety seats, and tires
- The Coast Guard covers recreational boats and related equipment
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recall jurisdiction over insecticides, rodenticides, fungicides, and vehicle emission testing