A new report from the consumer advocacy group Kids In Danger notes that, while deaths and injuries from recalled products are down, the methods for sharing information on recalls appear to be lacking.
Are product recalls keeping up with the times? That’s the question a nonprofit advocacy group is raising with a new study.
Kids In Danger (KID), a group focused on the safety issues around consumer products for children, released a new report this week that dives into a decades worth of data analysis on product recalls.
The new report, “A Decade of Data: An In-depth Look at 2014 and a Ten-Year Retrospective on Children’s Product Recalls [PDF], noted that while last year was one of the most improved years on record for product-recall effectiveness since the group started its research in 2002, there’s still room for progress.
“The drastic decrease in injuries and slight decrease in deaths reported prior to recall is heartening,” the report noted. “However, the number [of] units recalled increased in 2014. The more units on the shelf, the more chances for severe injury and death. All of these variables should be decreasing.”
Social Recalls Lacking
Perhaps the key issue the study touched upon is the role that social media plays in publicizing product recalls. The report noted that while many of the companies that had products recalled in 2014 have Twitter and Facebook accounts, less than a quarter of those with Facebook pages and less than a third of those with Twitter accounts posted recall information on those channels.
They don’t use all their social media channels to be able to do this. And, that’s what we’re asking for.
On the plus side, most of the companies that did post recall information using social media largely offered informative or supportive approaches to consumers.
“Although there has been a lot of improvements from 2013 to 2014, there is still much [that] could be done with social media in regards to recall notification,” the study stated. “In the future, Facebook and Twitter should be better utilized to reach more consumers with important recall information.”
Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairman Elliot Kaye said that the relatively light touch on social media closely ties into what the agency has seen.
“What we see is there’s a quick hit on the recall side,” Kaye told WTVD-TV in November. “It’s relatively narrow. They don’t use all their resources. They don’t use all their creativity. They don’t use all their social media channels to be able to do this. And, that’s what we’re asking for.”
An Association’s Defense
For its part, the Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association, which represents more than 250 companies, defended its industry’s record on the handling of recalls and noted that industry members use a variety of methods to announce recalls—including in-store notifications, social media, and direct-mail efforts.
“JPMA and its members are committed to utilizing this effective means of recall notification and regularly … educate and inform parents and caregivers of the importance of filling out product registration cards to receive direct notification of product recalls,” the group said in a statement to ABC News.