When a product recall is issued, how do you know? Social media services like Twitter are playing an increasingly important role in spreading the word about recalls.
The major federal government agencies that issue product recalls are all on Twitter, so they can send out instant messages whenever they announce a recall. Consumers with Twitter accounts can simply click "Follow" to get the agencies' tweets delivered straight to their Twitter feeds.
So which Twitter accounts should you follow? Here are the five key agencies that announce product recalls, and their associated Twitter names:
National Highway Transportation Safety Administration: Follow @NHTSAgov to stay on top of automotive recalls. You can also interact with the agency, as whoever's in charge of the account apparently likes to reply to, and comment about, other people's tweets.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration: The FDA has multiple Twitter accounts. @FDArecalls specifically deals with food and drug recalls, but you may also want to keep tabs on a few others as well. For example, @FDADeviceInfo and @FDAMedWatch discuss safety information about medical devices and products. @FDA_Drug_Info is devoted to news about drug recalls and approvals.
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission: Get the latest alerts and recalls about dangerous and defective products by following @OnSafety. The CPSC's official Twitter account also links to articles about timely safety issues, such as pool safety in summertime.
U.S. Department of Agriculture: The USDA also has more than one Twitter account, but the one that deals with recalls is @USDA. However, most tweets are about agriculture news and agency press releases.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:@EPAgov tweets news about recalls and the environment. @EPAnews sends out automated news releases.
For consumers who aren't on Twitter, these agencies all post their recall alerts on the website Recalls.gov. The site also offers a free smartphone app.