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Product Recall! You’ve probably seen too many articles and news stories to count featuring that phrase. Whether it’s defective airbags, combustible smartphones, or contaminated produce, companies and consumer protection agencies will alert the public if a product is unsafe, hazardous or defective.

You may be wondering which government agency oversees recalls; is it the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)? Or the Department of Agriculture (USDA)? The answer is both. Actually, the answer includes several federal agencies.

Recalls.gov was created in part by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the United States Coast Guard, the FDA, the USDA, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These six agencies teamed together to create an all-in-one website for consumers to find information about product recalls.

This website provides extensive recall information for consumer products, motor vehicles, boats, food, medicine, cosmetics, and environmental products.

The NHTSA has a database specifically for vehicles which consumers can use to look up safety recalls over the last 15 years. All you need to use it is your car’s 17-character Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Safercar.gov covers safety recalls that are incomplete on a vehicle, conducted over the past 15 calendar years, or conducted by major light automakers, including motorcycle manufacturers.

For recalls on clothes, appliances or other household products, the CPSC has a database that has a chronological list of items. Their search tool allows you to categorize by product type, hazard, or date of recall.

Foodsafety.gov uses information from both the USDA and the FDA to compile their database of product recalls. Besides having an extensive list of recent recalls, the website also offers an alert system that consumers can sign up for.

Aside from looking to government agencies, websites such as Consumer Reports often give up-to-date consumer alerts over product recalls. Additionally, most companies who have to recall a product provide information on their website that is easy to find.

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s Lemon Laws and Arbitration Program, Data Breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Programs and the MA Do Not Call Registry.

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