Global Recalls Portal Launched; TIA Seeks Clarifications that will Enhance Website’s Usefulness
October 22, 2012 | A new “Global Recalls Portal” was launched in Brussels, Belgium on October 19 to facilitate the exchange of information among government representatives, consumers and businesses about recalled products in jurisdictions around the world.
Developed by the EU, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), including countries such as the U.S., Australia and Canada, the first-of-its-kind portal was unveiled during International Product Safety Week. Paola Testori Coggi, Director General in the Directorate General for Health and Consumers at the European Commission (SANCO); Rintaro Tamaki, OECD Deputy Secretary General; and Inez Tenenbaum, CPSC Chairman were on hand at the launch.
According to the OECD website, the portal was created in response to increased online shopping and international trade. It will allow consumers to search (in their own language) products they intend to buy to see if any safety alerts have been issued; help businesses to track emerging hazards from around the world; and aid governments in removing unsafe products from the market.
The Toy Industry Association (TIA) acknowledges that the website is a useful tool to raise consumer awareness about product safety. Some concerns that TIA has regarding the website’s clarity and accuracy are:
- The website should clarify why an item has been recalled. Example: was the product recalled due to a hazardous condition or was it recalled because the item was found to be non-compliant (but not dangerous) to a specific country requirement that may not apply elsewhere?
- Item descriptions should avoid confusion. Example: an item being recalled may be sold under different model numbers or names (even different brands) in various countries; conversely, an item being recalled in one country may have a name identical to a product sold in another country that is not subject to a recall.
- Regulatory jurisdictions have different definitions of what constitutes a recall, posing potential challenges in understanding and interpreting the portal. Example: all corrective actions (repairs, replacement, refund, additional warning labels, etc.) are termed “recalls” by the U.S. CPSC but in the EU “recall” specifically means a market withdrawal.
“The portal is a positive measure to share information on consumer product safety,” said Alan Kaufman, TIA SVP of technical affairs. “However, these are some of the concerns and questions we have. It remains to be seen how these will be addressed in the implementation of the portal to avoid confusion by both consumers and regulators.”
TIA will keep members of any developments. To view the portal, visit www.globalrecalls.oecd.org.