Product Recalls: Fixing a Problem That Doesn’t Exist?
Just back from the Promotional Products industry’s largest trade show, PPAI Expo, which is reporting the best attendance since 2009, and reflecting that there were two frequent points of conversation. First, the continuing positive direction of the industry: larger budgets and more end-users interested in ramping up projects. Second, product safety is becoming a part of more and more conversations. In an effort to bring that discussion even more into the industry mainstream, we applaud the launch of the PPAI Product Safety Awareness Initiative.
One of the ongoing discussions at the show with members of the QCA Distributor Advocacy Council was the methodology of a recall. The reality of product failure for a supplier is not “if,” but “when,” so the ability to demonstrate the protocol for the process of a recall is just one of many components of the QCA accreditation process. But now, companies considering a product recall may be facing a legal minefield following a recent rule change proposal from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The proposed changes, which will require companies commencing a voluntary recall to implement a compliance program as a part of a legally binding corrective action, mark a radical change in direction by the commission. But are they trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist?
The system of voluntary recalls has been operating for over 30 years under the auspices of the CPSC, during which time a climate of trust has grown with many common practices being incorporated into the recall rules. Informal cooperation has led to most firms agreeing to recall and address potential product hazards with little recourse to law. Indeed, the CPSC’s Fast Track program, which incentivized companies to cooperate with the government without fear of an adverse determination regarding the safety of their product, has won an innovation in government award.