Today's Washington Post has this front page article on so-called product recall fatigue. The concern is that there are so many product recalls -- some of course more critical than others -- that consumers get lost and won't respond in large enough numbers to any of them. Below are a couple excerpts that describe the problem and some things the government is doing to deal with it. It's worth reading in full.
McDonald's asked customers to return 12 million glasses emblazoned with the character Shrek. Kellogg's warned consumers to stop eating 28 million boxes of Froot Loops and other cereals. Campbell Soup asked the public to return 15 million pounds of SpaghettiOs, and seven companies recalled 2 million cribs. And that was just a fraction of the products recalled in the United States last month alone. Government regulators, retailers, manufacturers and consumer experts are concerned that recall notices have become so frequent across a range of goods -- foods, consumer products, cars -- that the public is suffering from "recall fatigue."
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"The national recall system that's in place now just doesn't work," said Craig Wilson, assistant vice president for quality assurance and food safety at Costco. "We call it the Chicken Little syndrome. If you keep shouting at the wind -- 'The sky is falling! The sky is falling!' -- people literally become immune to the message."
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"There is so much information out there, if you paid attention to every recall notice that came out every day, you'd go nuts," said [William K.] Hallman, [a Rutgers professor] who has studied consumer attitudes toward food recalls with a grant partially funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He conducted a national survey last year in which 12 percent of respondents said they knowingly had eaten a recalled food.
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The government maintains a Web site, http://www.recalls.gov, offering information about all kinds of recalls, and consumers can subscribe for e-mail alerts about specific products. On Friday, federal officials plan to roll out a smartphone application so consumers can check recalls as they shop.