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The Most Infamous Product Recalls In America

Manufacturers have a duty to produce safe and effective products that perform as advertised and include thorough instructions for proper use. They must also warn customers of any potential risks associated with use of a product. When a product harms a user due to a design flaw, a manufacturing defect, or improper advertising, the manufacturer can be liable for the resulting damages under product liability laws.

In some cases, if the manufacturer learns of a serious problem with a line of products early enough, the product manufacturer will issue a recall to have the defective items returned. In other cases, a government oversight agency such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will force the manufacturer to recall the goods in question. Here are a few of the biggest product recalls from recent years.

Kraft Foods - Mac and Cheese and Heinz Turkey Bacon

In March 2015, Kraft Foods Group Inc. had to recall 6.5 million packages of its popular macaroni and cheese, after some packages were discovered to contain scraps of metal. Later that same year, in August, Kraft had to recall roughly 2 million pounds of Oscar Mayer turkey bacon. Customers were reporting that the bacon was making them sick, even though they ate it before the “Best If Used By” date on the packages.

General Mills - Cheerios Cereal

In 2015, General Mills began an ad campaign claiming that individuals with gluten sensitivities could now enjoy the popular Cheerios cereal. However, nearly 2 million boxes of cereal were labeled gluten-free erroneously and still contained wheat. This posed a serious risk to anyone with a gluten allergy who happened to consume the cereal.

Takata - Airbags

The largest product recall of 2015 was due to a defect with Takata airbags, resulting in a recall of 34 million units last August. This had a chain reaction effect, as many auto manufacturers had built millions of cars using these airbags, and the vehicles had to be recalled. Toyota issued a recall for 4.94 million Toyota and Nissan cars, and Honda recalled 4.5 million cars.

Volkswagen - Emissions Scandal

The popular German automobile manufacturer Volkswagen had to handle more than just a typical recall. Volkswagen pulled 8.5 million cars out of the European Union auto market after the company was exposed for cheating on emissions tests, posing a serious environmental issue. The Environmental Protection Agency did not formally issue a demand for a recall for VW cars in the United States.

Samsung - Galaxy Note 7 Smartphones

One of the most anticipated new smartphones of 2016 had a unique and dangerous flaw: the batteries started exploding. After hundreds of phones across the world suffered explosive failures, the tech giant Samsung and the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission issued an official recall for the phones and asked customers to stop using them. Soon after, Samsung offered replacements that supposedly did not have the same defect. This was unfortunately not true, and the replacement phones started exploding, as well.

Many carriers stopped selling the phones and were offering complete refunds to customers. On October 10, Samsung issued a formal statement declaring that it were stopping all sales of the Note 7 globally, and the Note 7 was canceled the following day.

As you can see from these examples, manufacturers must ensure the safety of the consumers who purchase and use their products. After many years of being a major player in tech, Samsung has lost a great deal of face in the eyes of their customers. When product manufacturers put consumers at risk, they need to take swift steps to correct the issue, or they face liability for damages and injuries caused by their products. If you’ve experienced a faulty product, contact the product liability attorneys at Cullan & Cullan to see how we can help you!


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