Yesterday the Consumer Product Safety Commission ("CPSC") announced a revised version of its Recall Handbook and new Guidelines for Retailers and Reverse Logistics Providers ("Reverse Logistics Guidelines"). Although much of the documents' content reflects existing law and Commission practice, the guidance confirms an increasing focus on new media and on tracking recalled products. For example, the Recall Handbook contains the following new provisions:
- Companies should file Section 15(b) Reports through the CPSC's website (saferproducts.gov), rather than by mail or phone. The staff repeated that preference at this week's annual meeting of the International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization ("ICPHSO").
- When announcing a recall, companies should consider use of their social media presence, including Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, and company blogs. Such posts should include a link to the company's recall website.
- Companies conducting a recall should modify their websites to accept e-mail requests to participate in the recall.
- Companies should consider the use of mobile scanners to obtain information on recalls from mobile devices. The recall poster should include a QR code or other mobile scanning code to let consumers act on the recall immediately.
- Companies conducting a recall should develop a plan regarding disposition of the returned product and its parts and monitor any third parties hired to destroy or dispose of the product.
- The Commission will monitor product recalls, as described in a new section of the Handbook and in the Reverse Logistics Guidelines.
The updated Recall Handbook also elaborates on some of the previous guidance:
- When discussing how the Commission evaluates the timeliness of a company's Section 15(b) Report, the Handbook explains that the CPSC will consider knowledge obtainable upon the exercise of due care to ascertain the truth of representations. In other words, a company should not bury its head in the sand while relying on statements from a third party.
- In addition to the factors previously identified for determining whether a risk of injury could make a product defective, the Commission will also consider whether the risk was obvious to the consumer; whether there were adequate warnings and instructions to mitigate the risk; and whether the risk of injury was the result of consumer misuse and, if so, whether the misuse was foreseeable.
- For the Fast Track Product Recall Program, if a corrective action plan is not approved within 20 working days, the staff typically will not make a preliminary hazard determination if the company has provided the required information, but the staff has not been able to review it within the time period.
- The number of units stated in the press release or recall alert announcing the recall must include units manufactured, imported, and distributed, even if those units were recovered prior to reaching consumers.
The Recall Handbook and Reverse Logistics Guidelines can serve as helpful quick references to company personnel involved in product safety issues.