Millions of products flood into the American market on a daily basis—from home and abroad. Many of these are tested for safety, but there are still many more that may pose a danger to consumers.
To respond to this threat, the U.S. government has created four regulatory agencies responsible for keeping you and your family safe from defective products.
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
Originally established in 1972, in accordance with the Consumer Product Safety Act, the CPSC is an independent agency, meaning it does not report to federal or state agencies. The President and Senate appoint three commissioners for seven-year terms each, who are responsible for numerous tasks.
The scope of the CPSC is broad. Anything from strollers to swimming pools is regulated by the CPSC. In all, the agency monitors over 15,000 different consumer products. Essentially, anything not specifically monitored by another agency (see below for examples) is overseen by the CPSC.
Visit the CPSC website to learn more.
Food & Drug Administration (FDA)
You are probably familiar with the FDA—the agency responsible for regulating the production and distribution of food, tobacco, supplements, pharmaceutical drugs, vaccines, veterinary products, and other medical supplies, as well as promoting public health in general. The commissioner of the FDA is also appointed by the President and Senate.
You may recall the salmonella outbreak back in 2012 linked to Sunland organic peanut butter. Or perhaps the plastic pieces found in Nature’s Variety pet formula that got pulled off the shelves this past February. In both cases, the FDA is the agency responsible for issuing the recall.
Find out more information about the FDA by visiting their website.
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
The role of the USDA primarily lies in monitoring farming, forestry, and food to ensure they are implementing safe and healthy food preparation practices. One of the USDA’s most important duties is regulating meat packing plants and factory farms to protect consumers against diseases carried by livestock, such as salmonella, E. coli, and other potentially life threatening bacteria.
To learn more about the USDA and their standards, visit their website.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
The federal agency in charge of regulating safety standards for motor vehicles, licensing the importation of automobiles, and conducting traffic safety research to reduce car accidents, among other things, is the NHTSA. The mission of the NHTSA is to “Save lives, prevent injuries, reduce vehicle-related crashes.”
The NHTSA also issues vehicle recalls, like Chrysler’s Jeep currently under investigation. According to the NHTSA, Jeep Grand Cherokees (1993-2004) and Libertys (2002-2007) have a history of rupturing a gas tank when rear-ended, causing deadly fires which has killed over 50 drivers already.
You can visit the NHTSA website to find out more about the Chrysler recall and other ongoing vehicle investigations.
What all four agencies have in common is that they have a duty to keep American consumers safe from unsafe products, but it is impossible for them to catch every defect. Many recalls are issued only after a damage, injury, or worse has occurred.
If you or a loved one has experienced injury because of a defective product, notify the applicable federal agency immediately so that additional harm can be prevented. Then, contact a product liability attorney immediately to discuss your legal rights.