Queens congresswoman introduces legislation to improve requirements for consumer product recalls

Businessman putting a card with text Product Recall in the pocket
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Congresswoman Grace Meng on Tuesday introduced new legislation that would require businesses to strengthen and streamline the way they notify consumers about product recalls. 

The Total Recall Act would increase notifications for all types of recalls by requiring businesses to post recall notices on their websites and on all social media accounts. Currently, the average response rate of consumers for most recalls is only between 4 and 18 percent, according to Meng. 

“Each year, businesses launch nearly 30,000 new products, but some of those items may endanger the health and safety of our families and our homes,” Meng said. “We can’t expect busy parents and consumers to consistently check for possible problems every time they purchase a product. If a company sells a dangerous item, that company should rightly be expected to market the recall as aggressively as they marketed the sale of the product.”

Under Meng’s legislation, for a mandatory recall, businesses would be required to notify the public by spending at least 25 percent of they money they used for traditional marketing of the product. For a voluntary recall and settlement, companies would be urged to notify consumers by using at least 25 percent of the product’s original traditional marketing budget and 100 percent of the social media marketing budget. 

The bill will also mandate that the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) provide an annual report to Congress on participation rates for each recall. 

An average recall response rate between 4 to 18 percent is not just unacceptable; it is irresponsible,” Meng said. “Every single day a family unknowingly continues to use an already recalled product, is a day too long. The Total Recall Act would ensure that companies commit to effective and impactful outreach on all recalled products, and I urge all my colleagues to support it.”

The Total Recall Act is endorsed by the Consumer Federation of America, Kids In Danger, MomsRising, Public Citizen and Safe Kids Worldwide. 

“Improving recall effectiveness is critical to ensuring that unsafe recalled products are removed from consumers’ homes and children’s hands,” said Rachel Weintraub, legislative director and general counsel with the Consumer Federation of America. “Much more must be done to make recalls actually work and this bill would require numerous necessary steps to help to make recalls more effective.”

Nancy Cowles, executive director of Kids In Danger, a nonprofit organization working to ensure product safety for children, said, “This bill will ensure that recalls are more effective in reaching families using the product, and encouraging them to participate in the recall.”

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