New app personalizes product recall updates for consumers

Every year, dangerous toys injure 200,000 children in the U.S. Tainted foods put 100,000 people in the hospital.  But keeping up with thousands of food and product recalls a year is overwhelming.

That's why a mother of four children and a former Department of Justice attorney who prosecuted cases against unsafe products created an app to make it easier. It's called Whystle.


There have been serious recalls this year.  Hyundai and Kia recalled half a million vehicles for a fire hazard. Hasbro's Super Soaker Water Blasters were recalled for lead and peaches sold at ALDI and Target were recalled after a salmonella outbreak.

"There's the salmonella outbreaks over the summer, peaches, onions, at a time when we're already worried about our health, the thought of getting salmonella is absolutely terrifying," said Whystle creator Lauren Bell.


Stericycle Expert Solutions, which tracks recalls, reports the pandemic shutdown caused USDA recalls to drop 78% in the first quarter of the year, and led to a dip in recalls in certain industries in the second quarter.  But Stericycle expects a spike in recalls by year's end as regulators and businesses return to normal operations.

Bell agrees, "Recalls were very slow. They picked back up a little bit, and I think we really expect to see a lot of recalls toward the end of the year," said Bell.

But trying to stay on top of so many food, car, product and drug recalls is overwhelming for most consumers.

"There's something called recall fatigue. There could be 50 to 60 recalls a month," said Bell.
Bell created Whystle, an app, to let consumers filter recall information to receive notices more relevant to them.

"We tailor it to our users. So you can tell the app if you're pregnant. Do you have kids and their ages? If you have allergies. Then you get a personalized feed of information most important to you," explained Bell.

The Whystle app starts at $2 a month on an annual plan.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission also has a free app that lets users search for products.