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Abundance of Product Recalls Lead Consumers to Ignore Most Important Warnings

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Very often I write about product recalls because, to be honest, there are a lot of them. As a result, some experts are saying this is a troubling trend and that consumers are becoming fatigued over the onslaught of product safety alerts, leading them to ignore the most important warnings. Take, for example, the fact that consumers were deluged with an average of 6.5 recalls per day for products ranging from pharmaceutical drugs to toys.

The increase in the number of recalls isn't just because of increased oversight by the government. It's also a result of social networking where consumers can quickly share information about dangerous products and discuss problems with other people. But experts also say that increased information isn't the only reason consumers aren't heeding recall warnings. Instead, the problem is two-fold, with some information escaping consumers altogether and others flat out ignoring warnings because they believe nothing bad will happen to them. Ultimately, humans are complex creatures who will do strange things like the opposite of what they're told to do.

Indeed, more consumers are ignoring the most important warnings–such as food contaminated with potentially deadly bacteria and faulty high chairs. In fact, a recent study found that 12% of Americans ignored food recalls and ate the potentially contaminated foods anyway. Although the government has attempted to increase the visibility of recalls through its own website, experts say the best way to reach consumers is by having manufacturers notify them directly. Costco uses such a technique by utilizing data gathered through customers' member cards that lets the store know if the customer has purchased a recalled item. Costco alerts these consumers by calling them and following up with a letter. As a result, 90% of Costco consumers will return a recalled item. Ultimately, the best way to prevent recalls is to make sure manufacturers are creating safe products to begin with.