Almost every day defective products that can potentially injure or kill consumers are being recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The number and diversity of products being recalled are on the rise. Last year in the U.S. there were more cars recalled than cars being sold. Does this mean that more defective products are being sold or that the consumer is better protected?
In a recent article in the New York Times, Stacey Colley explains that better detection technology and stricter safety rules have lead to an increase of products recalls. The recent massive recall of frozen fruits and vegetable by CRF Frozen Foods is a good example of how new technologies can help in identifying dangerous products and recalling them. After the Ohio Department of Agriculture found a bacteria responsible for listeria in a bag of frozen food during a routine test, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) used a technology called whole genome sequencing to determine if people got sick from eating contaminated CRF Frozen Food. The CDC found that 8 people in 3 States had to be hospitalized after eating CRF products that contain the listeria strain.
Recalls have also increased in number and in complexity. Before it was easy to trace defective products from small local suppliers. Now suppliers are fewer but they are giants and their products can be disseminated all around the country or the world. The most recent example is the Takata airbag inflater recall. the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that that it is the most complex recall it has ever overseen.