10 Biggest Product Recalls of All Time

If there’s one thing consumers, investors and companies can agree on, they hate recalls.

Damaged car dashboard
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If there’s one thing consumers, investors and companies can agree on, they hate recalls. In the least of cases, faulty products or contaminated foods are an inconvenience for the unlucky buyers. At worst, recalled products are linked to injuries, illnesses and even deaths. For manufacturers, recalls batter brand reputations, bottom lines and share prices.

It’s a nightmare for all involved.

“Defective products not only pose a serious safety risk to the public but can also cause significant financial and reputational damage to the companies concerned,” say analysts at global insurance company Allianz. “We are now seeing and experiencing recalls on a scale not seen before, bringing record levels of activity and costs.”

To put the scope of food and product recalls in perspective, we will look at some of the biggest recalls in history by cost. It should come as no surprise that the list is dominated by the automotive industry. Allianz notes that the sector accounts for more than 70% of the value of all recall-related insurance losses in a given year. The pharmaceutical industry also has the dubious distinction of making multiple appearances on the list.

Recalls are listed in order of total estimated costs according to company reports, news reports and data from Statista.

Dan Burrows
Senior Investing Writer, Kiplinger.com

Dan Burrows is a financial writer at Kiplinger, having joined the august publication full time in 2016.


A long-time financial journalist, Dan is a veteran of SmartMoney, MarketWatch, CBS MoneyWatch, InvestorPlace and DailyFinance. He has written for The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Consumer Reports, Senior Executive and Boston magazine, and his stories have appeared in the New York Daily News, the San Jose Mercury News and Investor's Business Daily, among other publications. As a senior writer at AOL's DailyFinance, Dan reported market news from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and hosted a weekly video segment on equities.


Once upon a time – before his days as a financial reporter and assistant financial editor at legendary fashion trade paper Women's Wear Daily – Dan worked for Spy magazine, scribbled away at Time Inc. and contributed to Maxim magazine back when lad mags were a thing. He's also written for Esquire magazine's Dubious Achievements Awards.


In his current role at Kiplinger, Dan writes about equities, fixed income, currencies, commodities, funds, macroeconomics and more.


Dan holds a bachelor's degree from Oberlin College and a master's degree from Columbia University.


Disclosure: Dan does not trade stocks or other securities. Rather, he dollar-cost averages into cheap funds and index funds and holds them forever in tax-advantaged accounts.