[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – During today’s Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing on the nominations of Alex Hoehn-Saric to be Chair of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and of Mary Boyle and Richard Trumka Jr. to be CPSC Commissioners, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) raised concerns about the pace and process of product recalls and urged more resources for the agency to conduct recalls more efficiently. Blumenthal noted that in 2019, CPSC coordinated more than 250 voluntary recalls impacting millions of products and families, with many of these recalls encountering major challenges.
“Communication may have been muddled in some of those recalls, timing has been slow, follow up on behalf of the industry with the Commission may have been limited, so I strongly believe that more resources and support for this agency are not only warranted but necessary,” Blumenthal said. “The recall process must be strengthened to protect the American people. Everybody thinks about a recall as something that happens when a product is defective, but often the recall is the exception—and effective recall is the exception rather than the rule. So let me ask all of you, Mr. Hoehn-Saric, Ms. Boyle and Mr. Trumka, what else and what do you think should be done to ensure the more effective use of recalls by the CPSC?
Hoehn-Saric agreed, saying: “I think this is multifold and as you’ve said, there are many recalls and many of them aren’t that effective,” and pointed to direct consumer contact and strengthening e-commerce platform notifications to consumers among ways to bolster product recalls and consumer awareness.
When Blumenthal posed the same question to Boyle and she stated that, “we do have to hold companies’ feet to the fire in terms of making sure that the recalls that we are entering into offer remedies that are effective and that consumers will want to take advantage of.” Boyle also noted that, “most of our recalls are voluntary given the nature of our statute and that’s something that we can think about, making sure that if that isn’t effective, to go to alternative ways to get recall.”
Blumenthal asked Trumka Jr. the same question, to which Trumka Jr. replied that he would like to “do a deep dive on past recalls that the agency has done to see best practices – what’s worked and what hasn’t and go forward with what has worked and then design recalls to incentivize participation.”
As Chair of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security, Blumenthal has long advocated for swift and effective recalls of dangerous products, including of hazardous Amazon products, Peloton treadmills, and infant sleeper products.