Product Recalls

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If you “shopped ’til you dropped” on the day after Thanksgiving, no doubt you noticed you had lots of company. According to the latest reports, sales on Black Friday totaled at least $8.96 billion.

Unfortunately a few of those purchases may turn out to be unsafe or defective. How can you find out which ones? Ask the US government, specifically the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which oversees approximately 15,000 products. Five other regulatory agencies work with CPSC to provide safety and recall information.

  • The US Coast Guard provides recall information on recreational boats and personal watercraft, as well as manufacturer’s installed equipment. The Coast Guard also investigates boating safety issues.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency issues consumer alerts on emission-related motor vehicle problems. Pesticide recalls are on their list of consumer alerts, too.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration supplies recall information on motor vehicles, recreational vehicles and related equipment, child safety seats and tires.
  • The Food and Drug Administration has jurisdiction over veterinary products, drugs, vaccines, medical devices, blood, plasma and cosmetics.
  • The Food Safety and Inspection Service lists recalls of meat products suspected of being contaminated by health-threatening bacteria or hazardous objects.

If you filled out a warranty, the manufacturer of a defective product may contact you. Otherwise, you can check the CPSC web site,, which contains links and information for all the agencies. Forms for filing a complaint are available on the site, too, making it easy to report an item you suspect is unsafe.

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