Have you ever run across a product that hurt you or someone under your care, but were unsure about how to report it? Then this information is for you.
There is no single government entity to report every type of dangerous product on the market. Different agencies oversee different types of products, and they each have their own policies, procedures, and notification systems for dealing with health and safety issues. We’ve collected the information here, with links to the right places for each type of product.
Why Report Dangerous Products?
There are several reasons why someone might want to report a dangerous product to the appropriate state or federal agency.
- You want to let other consumers know about problems you’ve experienced.
- You want the company to be aware of and fix the problem.
- You want the agency to investigate the issue.
In most cases, one or two reports about dangerous products may not be enough to make the company pull the product off the shelves or trigger an investigation. However, if enough people report problems with a product, then there is a greater likelihood that a recall or some other action will be taken.
How to Use This Reference
Find the section for the type of product you want to report and read the description. Simply click on the link to go directly to the agency’s reporting page.
General Consumer Products
Most everyday products are regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). In general, unless the type of product is listed elsewhere on this page, you should report products that caused harm or that you believe to be dangerous to the CPSC.
Report To: Consumer Product Safety Commission
Consumer Product Examples
- Toys and Games
- Baby Products
- Furniture and Decorations
- Clothing and Accessories
- Household Items
- Construction and DIY Materials
- Containers and Packaging
- Kitchen Items
- Personal Care Products
- Sports Equipment
- Yard and Garden Tools
- Cleaning Products
- Fuel, Lighters and Fireworks
- Other Chemicals except fungicides, herbicides and pesticides
Some chemicals are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), rather than the CPSC. Generally, the EPA responds to environmental issues related to these chemicals, including large spills, unintended exposure, “drift” (such as herbicides sprayed on a farm and getting blown by the wind to nearby homes), and misuse.
Report To: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Example Chemical Products
Meat, Dairy and Eggs
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) oversees the quality of meat, dairy, and egg products, including processed egg products. However, it does not regulate pet food containing meat or poultry. All other food items are handled by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Report To: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Example Agricultural Products
- Game Meat
- Ice cream
- Whey and Casein
- Dried Eggs
- Other dairy products
- Other meats and meat-based products, excluding pet food
Other Foods, Medicine and Medical Devices
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lives up to its name, and then some. Both packaged and prepared foods (other than meat, eggs, and dairy) fall under the FDA’s purview, as do all kinds of medications, including over-the-counter and prescription drugs. The FDA also regulates medical devices, including everyday items found in first aid kits like bandages and gauze, as well as complex devices for major medical problems like artificial joints, pacemakers, and most hospital equipment. Strangely enough, the FDA also has some responsibility for cosmetics, though its authority over cosmetic products is not as strong as for food, drugs, and medical devices.
Report To: U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Example Food and Medical Products
- Food (excluding meat, eggs, and dairy)
- Drugs (prescription)
- Dietary Supplements
- Medical Devices
- Medical Apps
- Veterinary medications
Land Vehicles and Vehicle-Related Products
Land-based vehicles of all kinds are overseen by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), even if the vehicle is not technically made for highway use (such as off-road vehicles). The NHTSA also regulates vehicle components and certain accessories used with vehicles, such as car seats and boosters for children.
Example Vehicles and Automotive Products
- Off-Road Vehicles (3- or 4-wheelers)
- Rescue Vehicles (ambulances, fire trucks, etc.)
- Car seats
Marine Vehicles and Equipment
If it floats on or (intentionally) submerges under the water, then the U.S. Coast Guard oversees it. From humongous shipping vessels to single-person jet skis, the Coast Guard is tasked with making sure manufacturers follow the proper safety guidelines. They also regulate equipment normally used for boating and marine activities, such as life jackets and rescue equipment.
Report To: U.S. Coast Guard
Example Maritime Vehicles and Equipment
- Boating Equipment
- Life Jackets
Air Vehicles and Equipment
Most people don’t deal with airplane or helicopters on a regular basis, but with the increasing prevalence of drone technology, airborne equipment is becoming more and more common. The Federal Aviation Administration oversees everything that can go up in the sky, including drones, gliders, helicopters, airplanes, and yes, even dirigibles (referred to as “airships” in the regulations).
Example Airborne Vehicles and Equipment
- Commercial Space Vehicles
- Parachute Equipment
- Parts for any of the above
Worker’s safety laws allow employees to file complaints about hazardous workplace conditions, including potentially defective equipment. Complaints are collected by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), and all information is kept confidential from employers. If you believe a piece of equipment, especially heavy machinery, is defective, you should report it right away to keep yourself and your co-workers safe.
Report To: Occupational Safety & Health Administration
Industrial Product Examples
- Industrial machines
- Commercial products
- Farm equipment
Alcohol and Tobacco
While there is no government agency tasked with overseeing defective firearms, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau – a sub-division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) – does oversee consumer product complaints tied to alcohol and tobacco products. Note that illegal activities (including theft) involving firearms, ammunition, and explosives can still be reported to the ATF, while illegal drug activities should be reported to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Diversion Control Division.
Report To: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms
Example Alcohol and Tobacco Products
- All types of Alcohol
- Tobacco products (not including e-cigarette devices)
Okay, most people don’t have nuclear waste or other radioactive materials sitting in their attics or basements (we hope). That said, we decided to include this information because it’s better to have the information in an emergency than not to have it.
Report To: U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Radioactive Product Examples
- Nuclear reactors (and reactor parts)
- Nuclear fuel
- Radioactive materials, including lost, stolen, or damaged materials
Still Don’t Know What to Do?
If none of the categories listed above seem to fit the product you are looking to report, you have one last option. Every state has a consumer protection office of some kind (the exact name varies from state to state). When in doubt, contact your state’s consumer protection office, and they can point you in the right direction.