Recalls in Review: A monthly spotlight on trending regulatory enforcement issues at the CPSC.

As we launch into the third quarter of 2020, we are taking a look at the trends from the CPSC’s recalls through the first half of the year.  The Commission has conducted 145 total recalls so far this year.  As is usually the case, the types of products recalled have varied widely, including ceiling fans, cleaning products, furniture, inclined sleepers, portable generators, pajamas, and strollers.  But some product categories have appeared multiple times, including: Dressers and Drawer Chests, Essential Oils, and Recreational Vehicles such as ATVs, UTVs, and Golf Carts.

In 2020 so far, Dressers, Drawer Chests, and Essential Oils have seen an increase in number of recalls as compared to recent years. Recreational Vehicles have historically been highly regulated, however, and the rate of recalls conducted in 2020 is comparatively similar to past years.

Reviewing the recall announcements shows that risk of poisoning was the most common hazard addressed by recalls in the first half of the year.  As mentioned in our previous post on child resistant packaging recalls, over 20 recalls have been conducted this year due to failure to meet the requirements of the Poison Prevention Packaging Act (PPPA) with a recent emphasis on essential oils containing methyl salicylate (wintergreen oil).  This recent rise in recalls correlates with at least one consumer advocate helping the CPSC identify wintergreen oil products in violation of PPPA requirements by reporting at least 45 such products through

The second most common hazard driving recalls this year has been a burn or fire hazard.  Product types recalled due to a burn or fire risk include some recreational vehicles, home appliances, lamps, personal electronics, and apparel and mattresses.  Consumers and retailers should continue to carefully monitor products that may pose these common types of risks.

A review of the data shows that children’s product recalls represent a smaller proportion (19%) of the total number of 2020 recalls as compared to recent years—24% in 2019, 20% in 2018, and 33% in 2017.  The number of children’s product recalls did not rise proportionately with the total number of recalls in March, April, or July.  Despite the numbers from the first half of the year, recalls for children’s products could certainly increase in the months ahead as back-to-school supplies and holiday toys begin to hit the market.

* * * * *

About Recalls in Review: As with all things, but particularly in retail, it is important to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s trending with consumers.  Regulatory enforcement is no different – it can also be subject to pop culture trends and social media fervor.  And this makes sense, as sales increase for a “trending” product, the likelihood of discovering a product defect or common consumer misuse also increases.  Regulators focus on popular products when monitoring the marketplace for safety issues.

As product safety lawyers, we follow the products that are likely targets for regulatory attention. Through Recalls in Review, we share our observations with you.