Calling all Australians – do you have dangerous products lurking in your home? Last year, the ACCC recalled over 307 products due to safety, health and other risks. That’s more than one recall per working day.
Unfortunately, unless there’s widespread media coverage about a product recall, like the hepatitis A contamination in frozen berries, or the global recall of 11 million Volkswagen vehicles this year, many product recalls go unnoticed. According to the ACCC, on average, about 56% of recalled products are returned, but for some product types, the return rate is much lower. For example, only one in five faulty or dangerous children’s toys gets returned after a recall.
Here are some of the top product recalls in Australian over the last 12 months. Hopefully there aren’t any lurking in your own home!
- Takata Airbags: nearly 850,000 cars have been recalled in 2015 for issues related to faulty airbag components supplied by Japanese car manufacturer Takata. It’s the biggest automobile recall in Australian history, affecting several popular Australian car brands, including Nissan, Mazda, Honda, Chrysler, Toyota and Subaru. The Takata components were recalled due to reports that they could explode with shrapnel following a crash impact.
- Contaminated Crayons: Asbestos has been found in children’s crayons retailed in Australia in 2015. The contamination affects popular Dora the Explorer, Peppa Pig, Arti Craft and several Disney branded crayon ranges. Although the ACCC says there’s no health risk posed to consumers, as the asbestos is ‘fixed’ within the wax and there’s little risk of it being inhaled, anyone concerned should return affected crayons in a sealed plastic bag or container to the supplier and request a refund.
- Jeans: Chemicals used in clothing manufacture can pose a dangerous health risk, and in March 2014, several leading retailers, including Just Jeans, Cotton On, Myer and Rivers, were forced to issue recalls for children’s jeans and some adult shorts products due to carcinogenic azo dye contamination.
- Kids clothing: In 2015 alone there have been over 15 children’s clothing products recalled by the ACCC, including clothing sold in major Australian retailers Big W, Woolworths, Myer and Kmart. The most recent recall relates to a collection of girls nighties sold at KMart that do not meet Australian standards for burning behavior requirements.
Home Hardware & Appliances
- Infinity Cabling: Over 4,000 metres of substandard electrical cable have been installed in houses across Australia, affecting up to 40,000 Australian homes. Poor plastic insulation may wear or become brittle over time, leading to a risk of electrocution or fire. Only 5% of identified Infinity cabling issues have been rectified or remediated.
- Samsung Washing Machines: Less than 42% of the 144,451 faulty Samsung Top Loader washing machines have been returned following a recall due to fire risk reported in 2013. These washing machines post a large safety threat to Australian homes and have been directly responsible for at least 18 house fires in NSW alone.
- Frozen Berries: in early 2015, several brands of mixed frozen berries, included popular brands like Creative Gourmet and Nanna’s, were pulled off supermarket shelves due to the risk of hepatitis A contamination.
Where to find out about product recalls
The ACCC keeps an up to date list of recalled products on their website, including information on the risk posed and what to do with the affected item. In most cases, you can return the product to the supplier or manufacturer for a refund. You can also review product recalls by category or search for specific products, suppliers and manufacture dates here. If you have concerns about a product you’ve purchased in Australia, you can report your concerns to your state or federal regulatory body through the government’s Product Safety website.
Protecting yourself, your family and your belongings is important; don’t ignore dangerous safety and health related recalls. Failure to adhere to a product recall may affect your insurance coverage as well, so check with you provider if you have any concerns.