The total number of products recalled has risen sharply over recent months. The primary culprits are food recalls stemming from allergens and the Listeria bacteria, though defective drugs and medical devices also contributed to the increase. Contaminated cantaloupe, papayas and turkey are just a few of the recalled food products to draw national headlines in the past few months. Heading into the holiday season, consumer watchdog groups will be on the lookout for defective toys and popular gift items.
A recall announcement is generally made after many consumers have been injured or killed by a dangerous product. Recalls are reactive, rather than proactive and have a limited ability to protect consumers. The Food and Drug Administration recently granted its inspectors broader powers to stop contaminated food at the border and to take early action to prevent food borne illnesses before they strike. It is not yet clear if those powers will be effective in protecting consumers.
Unsafe medical products, including defective vaginal mesh, non-sterile pads and hip replacement devices have caused patients to be hospitalized, require surgery and experience needless pain and suffering. These recalls have drawn attention to deficiencies in the FDA approval process for medical devices. In some cases, foreign manufacturers are to blame for defective medical devices and medications. This has revealed a flaw in the ability of the CDC and FDA to deal with the expanded use of foreign companies to make products sold in the United States.
Recalls will never be enough to prevent companies from making and selling dangerous goods. It is vital for the people who are injured by these products to take action and hold these companies liable. Only then will the cost of unsafe products outweigh the gains that can be made by cutting corners and endangering consumers.
Source: PR Newswire, “Food, Drug, Medical Device Recalls Continue to Climb According to ExpertRECALL Quarterly Index,” 3 November 2011