While we like to think of ourselves as skeptical, diligent consumers, the truth is we’re probably a little too trusting when it comes to the products we use. Sure, we’ll take a peek at online reviews, we’ll probably even Google the company CEO – mostly to see how much more money they make than us, before shaking our fists at the wretched capitalist dog.
We rarely, if ever, do any kind of due diligence. Probably because we figure that there are systems and checks in place to keep us safe. We trust that the FDA is there to check our food like a medieval tasting wench, that quality control will catch faults and put a halt to production. We also know, that in worst case scenarios, a company will recall it’s product rather than let us, it’s loyal customer, come to any harm.
Come on now, you’re smarter than that. Mostly because Fight Club told us so.
That’s right, if Edward Norton has taught us anything, it’s that car manufacturers will see hundreds of faces smashed into the surface of the world’s great highways before it recalls a single one of it’s vehicles. Until they are absolutely forced to grudgingly issue a recall notice, they will consider human loss of life as an acceptable risk.
Well, friends and fellow daily risk-takers, it’s not just cars you need to be deathly afraid of (although they do appear more than once on our list). Everything you use, eat, trust to keep you alive can result in your death because a business decided it wasn’t in the interest of it’s healthy bottom line to keep you out of death’s bony clutches.
Put down that pot of salmonella-laden peanut butter for a moment, and take a peek at some quite concerning offenders.
15. General Motors – Faulty Ignition Systems
Perhaps one of the biggest recall scandals in recent years was centered around General Motors. Proponents of such brands as Buick and Chevrolet, they are responsible for the Camaro – and probably why we all know it’s just not a good idea to buy American.
Sorry, was that blasphemous?
Nevertheless, adding fuel to the fire (we’d like to say that’s a figurative phrase, but we really, really can’t), is the fact that GM hasn’t exactly acted responsibly with their recalls in recent history.
A fault in the ignition systems of many of their vehicles was found to be the cause of at least 13 deaths. This is tragic enough, until you realize that GM knew about the fault for more than a decade before they were forced to start recalling.
Following investigations, GM were fined $35m by the US government – the largest fine issued by any government on the subject of recalls.
14. Ikea – Their Furniture Will Kill Your Children
Ikea. The company who think we get so confused by variety that they ensured all their stores have identical layouts. The company who decided that most of us can’t understand written instructions, so they only have that weird looking guy on their paperwork showing us how to do basic tasks.
Oh, and the company that doesn’t seem to really mind if their products kill children.
In 2014 it was revealed that Ikea’s chest of drawers, named Malm, had a tendency to topple over and crush the life out of little kids. After 3 such cases, Ikea recalled 29 million Malms…but only in the US.
It seems Ikea decided that people living in the rest of the world could take their chances with the possible deathtrap, or undertake their instructions to securely drill the drawers to a wall – forgetting, of course, that their demographic prefers not to use power tools. Yep, rather than forking out the cash for a worldwide recall, it figures non-US kids are expendable.
13. Hydroxycut – Life-Threatening Side Effects
Dietary supplements have become big business. Mostly because there’s a growing portion of the population that seems to spend most of their waking hours flexing their gun show into a mirror at the gym while lamenting the illegality of steroids.
Hydroxycut, produced by Iovate Health Sciences (two of those words appear to be inaccurately present), is a product designed to help suckers “lose weight fast”, being “clinically proven” to do so “without any side effects”.
For the sake of clarity, all those words in between the quotation marks are all lies. They should also be replaced by the phrases “causes liver damage”, “is completely unregulated”, and “has killed at least 2 people”.
Despite the substance being banned by the FDA, Hydroxycut remains on the market. The way they get around recalling their product entirely is they make minor changes to the ingredients every so often. Changes that make no significant difference to the health risks posed by using the product, but enough to steer them clear of prosecution.
12. Toyota – Problems with the Accelerator Pedal
Toyota have faced some criticism of late in their own recall-related debacle. Actually, “debacle” seems too flippant when people’s lives are at stake – let’s go with “snafu”.
The snafu in question involved a number of Toyota’s vehicles experiencing problems with the accelerator pedal becoming stuck – which is a, frankly, terrifying prospect. Like any responsible company, Toyota issued a recall of more than 2.3 million vehicles.
Oh, that is, except when it comes to it’s luxury brand, Lexus. Despite the fact that there is a harrowing 911 call recording of a driver begging for prayer before he and his family died when their accelerator pedal became jammed and brakes failed, Toyota decided that its most expensive cars still didn’t need to be recalled.
While they were happy to recall their lower cost vehicles, Toyota took the view that the same fault in its luxury vehicles was probably caused by the pedal getting stuck under the floor mat.
11. Takata – Airbag System Failed to Deploy
Oh look, another car recall issue. Yeah, if we’re honest, this whole list is just designed to scare you into taking public transportation. Or walking – when was the last time you heard of a person’s feet getting recalled for airbag issues??
Speaking (writing?) of airbag issues, the Takata company, who provides airbags for manufacturers such as Honda, Toyota, and Mazda, has been at the center of a recall hubbub. If we can call widespread failures in equipment that is designed to stop people crushing their skulls against dashboards and windshields a “hubbub”.
While Takata have now been forced to recall 70 million vehicles (only 8 million of which they’ve actually found time to fix), US Congress and safety advocates have hit out at Takata – and at Honda in particular – for waiting years after they first found problems in the airbag system to actually respond. Not to mention that even after the recall some new cars were still being sold with the faulty airbags in place.
10. Tesla – Autopilot System Failure
Alright then, one more car manufacturer. But only because you’re still driving around, oblivious to your impending doom.
Tesla motors has marketed itself as the future of clean transportation. They offer exciting products, the best and brightest hope for a Back to the Future-style existence, and we are all hopelessly in love with it’s CEO Elon Musk.
Ah, Elon Musk (cue angelic choirs).
We wet our respective pantaloons with joy when Tesla revealed they would be including an automated driving system in their vehicles, because we seem to forget that John Connor is out there trying to save us from the impending war against the machines.
Fools. The war has already begun.
In 2016, Joshua Brown was killed when his Tesla autopilot system failed to notice an 18-wheeler truck and trailer crossing the highway. It was revealed that the vehicle’s radar system tuned out what looked like an overhead road sign to avoid false breaking.
While a federal investigation decided not to force a recall, and the fact that the driver clearly wasn’t paying attention, this suggests that the autopilot system isn’t as accurate as it really should be – but Tesla are happy for them to still be on the streets.
9. Evangers – Bacteria Contamination
No, not Earth’s mightiest heroes with a slight speech impediment, but rather a pet food manufacturer.
That’s right, pets are people too, and they can also fall victim to the lackadaisical manufacturing standards of evil (well, at the very least greedy) corporations.
Evangers decidedly fancy sounding Hunk-of-Beef Au Jus, was discovered to have been contaminated with pentobarbital – a bacteria which can cause drowsiness, nausea, excitement…oh, and death.
8. Bayer – Medication Infected People with HIV
One of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies, Bayer provides the planet with such essential medical products as aspirin and birth control.
However, back in 1984, a division of the business – Cutter Biological – found that their blood-clotting medication for hemophiliacs was actually infecting them with HIV. Which we have to all agree is a pretty serious boo-boo.
Now, like any good company, they obviously took the product off the shelves and burned it all with purging fire.
Not a bit of it. While they removed the medication from sale in the US and Europe (apparently the only lives that matter), they not only failed to recall it in Asia and Latin America, but continued to push sales of it. But wait, there’s more! They didn’t just sell the old, dangerous stock, but they continued to produce even more of it for more than a year later.
7. James Hardie Industries – Death by Asbestos
We all know now that asbestos is dangerous, just as we all know now that licking plutonium is not the brightest idea – hindsight is a wonderful thing.
However, there was a time when asbestos was considered a safe and useful product.
One of the largest manufacturers of asbestos products was James Hardie Industries. By the mid-twentieth century the Australian company were popular producers of insulation, building materials, and brake linings containing what would later be referred to as “devil’s dust”.
When it was revealed in the late 1970s that asbestos was causing people to contract respiratory diseases and die, most companies were surprised, and changed their products and manufacturing accordingly.
However, following a series of tribunals and lawsuits, it was revealed that James Hardie Industries actually knew the production of asbestos was incredibly hazardous, and did nothing to recall, change it’s products, or protect it’s workers and customers from damaging effects. It wasn’t until 1987 that the company ceased using asbestos altogether.
6. Merck – Increased Risk of Heart Attacks and Strokes
Merck – which you have to admit is difficult to say without slipping into saying “’murica” – is a drugs manufacturer. One of it’s products, Vioxx, was considered to be a blockbuster drug – meaning that it generated a minimum of $1billion in annual sales.
However, while the rheumatoid arthritis medication, which was marketed in 80 countries, was pulling in more than $2.5billion in revenue, behind the scenes it turned out to be killing users in droves.
Rather than recalling the product when risks of heart attacks and strokes became evident, Merck decided it was too big a seller to lose. But it didn’t just stop there. It produced ghostwritten research papers falsely claiming that Vioxx was a safe and effective product. It also used these spurious testimonies to bypass medical professionals and market directly to the unsuspecting consumer.
In a final bewildering act of bravado, it was proven that one of these testimonies was ghostwritten, before being published under the name of a medical professional that had died in a plane crash more than a year previously.
5. Monster Energy Drinks – A Cocktail of Dangerous Chemicals
In this modern fidget-spinning, selfie-sticking, attention-deficient world we seem to be inhabiting, we have become somewhat addicted to energy drinks. They keep us working and they keep us twerking, because we’ve somehow become immune to the effects of black coffee.
While most of us seem to be able to make it through the day with maybe just the one energy drink, others seem to pound them as often as breathing in. Which is where Monster Energy has fallen afoul.
Since 2012, reports begun to file in of people – at least 5 at the time – dying as a result of over-consumption of the inexplicably popular beverage.
While investigations were still ongoing, you would have thought that Monster might have been concerned by the deaths and even without recalling the product, perhaps issue warnings or adjust the chemical makeup.
No. They continued to sell the concoction, which – unregulated by the FDA as it’s not considered a foodstuff – continues to contain excessive levels of caffeine that couldn’t be sold in any regulated product.
4. Imperial Tobacco – Nicotine Overdose
We all know by now that smoking is extremely hazardous to our health. Despite reports of decrepit centarians – their lungs rattling as they talk through wheezes – attributing their long lives to their many years of inhaling tobacco, we’re aware of how dangerous it is.
Any other product that causes around 480,000 deaths each year would have been immediately recalled, but not tobacco products. While there are many companies clearly happy to let their clientele die as a result of cigarette smoking, we’re gonna single out Imperial Tobacco for a moment.
You see, Imperial Tobacco haven’t just failed to protect the public from the dangers of their product, but they’re still vehemently denying that there’s any health risks involved.
In a recent lawsuit, Imperial claimed that there was no provable link between lung cancer and it’s product, and that it was equally if not more likely that cancer was caused by race, sex, personality, and education.
3. Hawthorn – Hand Sanitizer Marketed as Alcohol
There have always been rumors about products that can get you drunk. Those liquids, as desperate and stupid teenagers, we told each other contained trace amounts of alcohol and when consumed would give us a buzz and make us rebel legends among our peers.
Go on, drink that hand sanitizer.
In Siberia, however, such activity has proven a bit more of a problem.
In 2016, people realised that Hawthorn – a bath lotion – was far cheaper than booze, and contained enough alchahol to get them wasted. Even better, they were able to get bottles of Hawthorn from vending machines, so it’s sale was unregulated.
Downing bath lotion containing ethanol is pretty dangerous, and the manufacturer found out pretty quickly that their huge sales were being driven by people who bought it as an alternative to booze.
So, obviously they recalled the product like a responsible business, right?
Seeing an opportunity to cash in on this new use for their product, the company went a step further and replaced the ethanol with methanol, because it was cheaper. As a result, in the space of a week 70 people died and more than 40 were hospitalized.
2. Sanlu – Contaminated Baby Formula
We sort of take it for granted that it’s safe for us to attach our lips to a cow’s udders and drain it of it’s rich, creamy goodness. Honestly, what other species can say that about another species?
Well, before that horror show begins, some mothers breastfeed their young with their own juices, while others prefer to feed their children formula.
In China, this has proven to be risky.
In 2008, 30,000 children were victims of melamine-contaminated formula, produced by Sanlu. This caused kidney stones, other kidney damage, and in at least 6 cases, death. The company not only failed to issue a recall, but continued production.
The issue highlighted not just a simple failure to recall, but systematic corruption throughout the Chinese food manufacturing industry. As a result of subsequent prosecutions, 2 people were executed, 3 given life imprisonment, with 2 more receiving 15-year jail terms.
1. Peanut Corporation of America – Salmonella Outbreak
Peanut butter is the lifeblood of America. Thick, creamy, and occasionally containing shards of nutty pain, it flows through the veins of the US, as vital to it’s survival as the Constitution itself.
As a result, the Peanut Corp. of America sat like fatcats atop a mountain of cash, because they knew America bowed down to their product.
And occasionally bent double, vomiting due to their product.
In 2008 there was a severe salmonella outbreak that reportedly made hundreds of people ill and actually killed 8. The bug was traced back to the company’s plant in Georgia, which was found to be infested – possibly even festooned – with mold, roaches, and rodents.
Worse, it was discovered that the company had found evidence of the salmonella in it’s own initial product testing, but chose to ignore it rather than recall their jelly companion.
As a result of a federal investigation, the company declared bankruptcy.
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