Over a million recalled products still in circulation in Australia

21 October 2019

Australians could be at risk of injuries or even death from 6.6 million individual products currently under voluntary recall, new figures show.

Figures show that each year the ACCC is notified of about 650 consumer product recalls, but only about half of affected products are returned to sellers. Excluding motor vehicle recalls, this amounts to about 1.7 million recalled products remaining in people’s homes, or almost one in four Australian households exposed to potential hazards.

The ACCC is recommending that the government strengthen the Australian Consumer Law by requiring businesses to comply with a “new safety duty”, which would mean businesses must take “reasonable steps” to ensure the products they sell are not unsafe.

“In Australia, two people die and 145 people are injured every day by unsafe consumer products,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.

“Many people would be surprised to learn there is currently no law that requires businesses to not sell unsafe products.”

“We believe prevention is better than cure, and that legally requiring businesses to take steps to ensure the safety of their products before they enter the market is needed to protect Australian consumers.”

The ACCC is part of a global OECD campaign on product recalls that kicks off today to raise awareness of the importance of making sure recalled products are removed from homes.

Australian consumers are encouraged to sign up to the Product Safety Australia website to receive product recall alerts and to register their products with manufacturers, where possible, to ensure they receive information straight away if a product is recalled.

“Toys and products for babies and children accounted for almost one in three safety recalls monitored by the ACCC. It is really important that people sign up to ACCC product safety alerts and register products with manufacturers, so they stay informed about recalls and can act to remove unsafe products from their homes,” Ms Court said.

“We also have the biggest recall in Australian history underway: potentially deadly Takata airbags can still found in about half a million cars. It is vital that consumers don’t ignore recall information if they receive a letter, email or text from a manufacturer.”

Follow the hashtag #ReactToRecalls and find more information at: https://www.productsafety.gov.au/news/product-recalls-2019-international-campaign

Background

  • The ACCC and the European Commission (EC) are co-leading a product safety OECD campaign running from 21 to 25 October, with about 20 other countries taking part.
  • In 2018 over 3,700 recall notifications were submitted by almost 40 jurisdictions on the OECD GlobalRecalls portal.
  • Estimates show there are around 780 deaths and 52,000 injuries per year from unsafe consumer products in Australia. This amounts to a cost of at least $5 billion to the economy, including medical costs, lost wages and lost productivity.
  • In 2018 the OECD released the background report on Enhancing Product Recall Effectiveness Globally, which found that the average return rate for recalls was 49 per cent in Australia (excluding motor vehicles).

  • Tips for consumers and business are available online.

Clarification: This media release was amended on 23 October to clarify the figures of recalled products, excluding motor vehicles, remaining in Australian homes.

Release number: 
195/19
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