Food contamination scares and cheap, unsafe imports have fuelled a jump in the number of products recalled in Australia over the past 12 months, according to figures released by the consumer watchdog.
ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said a range of factors were to blame for the “concerning” 14 per cent increase.
“Across the board, the ACCC has concern about suppliers seeking to keep prices down, outsourcing production to overseas countries often without adequate safety protocols in place,” Ms Rickard told the ABC.
“We think that it’s a good thing that suppliers are probably more aware of their obligations and are acting faster in relation to recalls.”
Cars accounted for 182 recalls in the past 12 months, however the ACCC said customers with affected vehicles were easy to trace and those recalls were generally smooth.
There was a steep rise in the number of food and grocery recalls, up to 123 from 71 in the previous year.
“Those recalls involved a range of things, things like undisclosed allergens, presence of nuts, eggs, contaminants, things like metal filings, bits of plastic, but also bacterias, listeria, e-coli, unpleasant things such as that,” Ms Rickard said.
Fires prompt hoverboard safety warnings
Recalls of hobby, sport and recreation goods were up from 44 recalls to 79 in the past 12 months.
One of the problem products in that category has been unsafe hoverboards, which can overheat when charged and have been linked to house fires.
“We’ve had over 20 recalls of hoverboards in the last year,” Ms Rickard said.
“We’ve had six houses now which have had fires as a result of hoverboards charging so it’s really important that you check those recalls and you check with your supplier that your hoverboard complies with relevant safety requirements.”
Other sporting and recreational products recalled included bikes and exercise bikes, treadmills, barbecues and even hedge trimmers.
Ms Rickard said button batteries, which can be lethal to children if swallowed, are a continuing concern across a number of products.
“We’ve been working with industry to get a code in place that’s going to lead to much better containment of button batteries, and major retailers not being able to sell products that don’t have batteries properly screwed in,” she said.
“We most frequently get the recalls around children’s novelty products which flash, things like kids bracelets, flashing rings, drinking cups which are cheaply made so easily break.
“They’re also there in car keys, TV remote controls, kitchen scales, hearing aids, so they’re virtually ubiquitous, so we’re saying to anyone who supplies products that contain button batteries, unless they are securely contained so children can’t access them, they shouldn’t be sold at all.”
Woolworths fine sent a strong message: ACCC
“The case really drove home that message to suppliers that if you’ve got a report about a problem with one of your products then you need to take action,” Ms Rickard said.
The ACCC has also launched a new product safety website for consumers, with information on recalls and the option for email alerts when a new product is listed.
The website also has information for suppliers and retailers.
This post originally appeared on ABC News.
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