woman angry driving car upset

Major Product Recalls That Almost Bankrupted Companies

Product recalls often involve serious safety concerns and substantial financial losses. From toxic toys to defective cars, the biggest recalls in history highlight the critical importance of product safety and quality control. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most notable product recalls, why they happened, and their lasting impacts.

Tylenol Poisoning Crisis

pharmacist doing inventory in a provided and modern pharmacy jobs
image credit: ground-picture/shutterstock

In 1982, Johnson & Johnson faced a crisis when seven people died after ingesting cyanide-laced Tylenol capsules. The company recalled 31 million bottles, costing over $100 million. This incident led to the development of tamper-evident packaging.

Ford Pinto Recall

Upset driver parking after car accident crying hands on head
image credit: hbrh/shutterstock

The Ford Pinto became infamous in the 1970s after it was revealed that its fuel tank could explode in rear-end collisions. Ford initially opted not to fix it due to cost considerations. After numerous lawsuits and public outcry, Ford recalled 1.5 million Pintos in 1978.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Recall

Woman Tablet Laptop Cozy Leg Warmer G Stock Studio Shutterstock
image credit: G Stock Studio/Shutterstock

Samsung recalled the Galaxy Note 7 in 2016 after multiple reports of the phones catching fire due to battery defects. The recall affected 2.5 million units and cost the company over $5 billion. This debacle significantly impacted Samsung’s reputation and market share.

Firestone Tire Recall

Couple travel charging station electric car vehicle Viktoriia Hnatiuk Shutterstock
image credit: Viktoriia Hnatiuk/Shutterstock

In 2000, Bridgestone/Firestone recalled 6.5 million tires after they were linked to accidents causing 271 deaths and over 800 injuries. The tires, mostly fitted on Ford Explorers, were prone to tread separation. This massive recall strained the relationship between Ford and Firestone.

Peanut Corporation of America Recall

Peanut butter banana smoothie healthy JeniFoto Shutterstock
image credit: JeniFoto/Shutterstock

The Peanut Corporation of America issued a recall in 2009 after a salmonella outbreak linked to its products caused nine deaths and sickened over 700 people. The recall affected thousands of products and led to the company’s bankruptcy.

Volkswagen Emissions Scandal

Vintage Classic Car Beach 4 PM production Shutterstock
image credit: 4 PM production/Shutterstock

In 2015, Volkswagen admitted to installing software in 11 million diesel cars worldwide to cheat emissions tests. The scandal, known as Dieselgate, led to recalls, fines, and lawsuits costing the company over $30 billion.

Mattel Toy Recall

Dad and kid playing with toy cars goodluz Shutterstock
image credit: goodluz/Shutterstock

In 2007, Mattel recalled over 20 million toys due to hazards such as lead paint and small magnets that could be swallowed. The recall was prompted by Chinese manufacturers’ use of non-compliant materials. This incident spurred stricter safety regulations for children’s toys.

Toyota Accelerator Pedal Recall

Toyota Tundra Alexander Piragis Shutterstock
image credit: Alexander Piragis/Shutterstock

Toyota recalled 8.5 million vehicles between 2009 and 2010 due to issues with sticky accelerator pedals and floor mats that could trap the pedal. The recall followed reports of unintended acceleration linked to several fatal accidents.

General Motors Ignition Switch Recall

GM General Motors GM Assembly Line Trucks John Gress Media Inc Shutterstock
image credit: John Gress Media Inc/Shutterstock

In 2014, General Motors recalled 2.6 million vehicles due to faulty ignition switches that could shut off the engine and disable safety systems. This defect was linked to 124 deaths and hundreds of injuries. GM’s delayed response led to a $900 million settlement with the U.S. government.

Blue Bell Ice Cream Recall

Young and happy saleswoman in apron making ice cream at the counter of the modern pastry shop jobs
image credit: ross-helen/shutterstock

Blue Bell Creameries recalled all its products in 2015 after a listeria outbreak caused three deaths and multiple illnesses. The contamination was traced to several of its plants. The company undertook extensive cleaning and overhaul of its facilities, costing millions.

Dell Laptop Battery Recall

Young male worried concern laptop computer coffee Miljan Zivkovic Shutterstock
image credit: Miljan Zivkovic/Shutterstock

In 2006, Dell recalled 4.1 million laptop batteries made by Sony due to overheating and fire risks. The recall, one of the largest in electronics history, affected numerous laptop models. It highlighted significant issues in battery manufacturing and safety.

Peloton Tread+ Recall

Male Fitness Running Treadmill Home Gym Ljupco Smokovski Shutterstock
image credit: Ljupco Smokovski/Shutterstock

Peloton recalled its Tread+ treadmills in 2021 after reports of injuries and one child’s death due to the machine’s design. The recall affected 125,000 units and led to a redesign of the product. Peloton faced scrutiny over its initial handling of safety concerns.

Renu MoistureLoc Recall

Woman shower bathing morning relax clean self care 4 PM production Shutterstock
image credit: 4-PM-production/Shutterstock

Bausch & Lomb recalled its Renu with MoistureLoc contact lens solution in 2006 after it was linked to a rare fungal eye infection. The recall affected millions of bottles and significantly impacted the company’s market position.

IBM Deskstar Hard Drive Recall

Woman Male Computer Programmer Work Meeting Jobs Gorodenkoff Shutterstock
image credit: Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock

In the early 2000s, IBM recalled its Deskstar 75GXP hard drives, which were prone to failure and data loss. The recall affected over 1 million units and led to a class-action lawsuit. This highlighted the critical importance of reliability in data storage devices.

Ford Fire Recall

Ford Explorer car Fancey Media Shutterstock
image credit: Fancey Media/Shutterstock

In 1996, Ford recalled 7.9 million vehicles due to a faulty ignition switch that could cause fires. The defect was linked to several hundred incidents and numerous injuries. This massive recall stressed the importance of robust electrical system design in vehicles.

Spinach E. Coli Outbreak

pretty young woman in sweater picking up choosing green leafy vegetables in grocery store supermarket
image credit: asht-productions/shutterstock

In 2006, an E. coli outbreak linked to contaminated spinach resulted in three deaths and nearly 200 illnesses. The source was traced to a single supplier, leading to a massive recall of spinach products.

Samsung Washing Machine Recall

Woman Washing Machine Laundry LightField Studios Shutterstock
image credit: LightField Studios/Shutterstock

Samsung recalled 2.8 million top-loading washing machines in 2016 after reports of the machines vibrating excessively and causing injuries. The recall followed numerous complaints and lawsuits.

Pfizer Bextra Recall

Doctor Male Young Patient Health Jobs Ground Picture Shutterstock
image credit: Ground-Picture/Shutterstock

Pfizer recalled its anti-inflammatory drug Bextra in 2005 after it was linked to increased risks of heart attack, stroke, and severe skin reactions. The recall was part of a larger scrutiny of COX-2 inhibitors. Pfizer faced substantial legal challenges and financial losses.

Nestle Toll House Cookie Dough Recall

Mother daughter child bake cookies oven kitchen Yuganov Konstantin Shutterstock
image credit: Yuganov Konstantin/Shutterstock

In 2009, Nestle recalled its Toll House cookie dough after it was linked to an E. coli outbreak. The recall affected millions of packages and highlighted the risks of consuming raw cookie dough.

Bridgestone/Firestone Wilderness AT Recall

Pretty young woman refuel the car pumping gas station
image credit: gergely-zsolnai/shutterstock

In 2000, Bridgestone/Firestone recalled 6.5 million Wilderness AT tires due to high failure rates that caused rollovers. The recall was linked to numerous accidents and fatalities, particularly involving Ford Explorer SUVs.

Ikea Malm Dresser Recall

Children's Bedroom Space Theme Rug Bean Bag Decor Kid Ground Picture Shutterstock
image credit: Ground Picture/Shutterstock

Ikea recalled millions of Malm dressers in 2016 after they were linked to several child fatalities due to tipping over. The recall prompted a redesign and increased focus on securing furniture to walls. It brought attention to the safety of household furniture design.

DePuy Hip Replacement Recall

Male nurse senior patient walking Dmytro Zinkevych Shutterstock

DePuy Orthopaedics, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, recalled its ASR hip replacement devices in 2010 due to high failure rates. The recall affected thousands of patients and led to numerous lawsuits.

Josh Dudick

Josh is a financial expert with over 15 years of experience on Wall Street as a senior market strategist and trader. His career has spanned from working on the New York Stock Exchange floor to investment management and portfolio trading at Citibank, Chicago Trading Company, and Flow Traders.

Josh graduated from Cornell University with a degree from the Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management at the SC Johnson College of Business. He has held multiple professional licenses during his career, including FINRA Series 3, 7, 24, 55, Nasdaq OMX, Xetra & Eurex (German), and SIX (Swiss) trading licenses. Josh served as a senior trader and strategist, business partner, and head of futures in his former roles on Wall Street.

Josh's work and authoritative advice have appeared in major publications like Nasdaq, Forbes, The Sun, Yahoo! Finance, CBS News, Fortune, The Street, MSN Money, and Go Banking Rates. Josh currently holds areas of expertise in investing, wealth management, capital markets, taxes, real estate, cryptocurrencies, and personal finance.

Josh currently runs a wealth management business and investment firm. Additionally, he is the founder and CEO of Top Dollar, where he teaches others how to build 6-figure passive income with smart money strategies that he uses professionally.