The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has launched a global online recall portal that gives consumers, businesses and governments quick and easy access to the latest information on products recalled from the market in Australia, Canada, Europe, and the United States. Established on October 19, 2012, the Global Recalls portal is “the first online tool that contains regularly updated information on consumer product recalls issued by jurisdictions around the world,” states OECD. “Now, users can find out about product issues in other jurisdictions presented in their own language.”

Designed to promote and improve product safety, the portal will allow consumers to check whether a product they plan to buy in a store or online has been taken off the shelf in another country. Increased trade can make it difficult to ensure that the products consumers buy are safe, and according to OECD, deaths and injuries worldwide from unsafe products are estimated to cost more than $1 trillion each year. The portal will also help businesses improve tracking of emerging hazards from around the world, allowing them to move quickly to address problems, remove products from sale and step up enforcement.

Speaking at the launch in Brussels during International Product Safety Week, OECD Deputy Secretary General Rintaro Tamaki said, “The past decade has seen a sharp increase in the number of product recalls. With ever more sophisticated and globalised supply chains in international trade, it’s more vital than ever that governments co-operate and respond quickly to issues as they arise. The portal will play a key role in facilitating co-operation and information sharing.”

“In our global marketplace and interconnected world, information sharing is key,” said Inez Tenenbaum, Chair of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in an OECD press release. “Providing consumers in different jurisdictions with access to recall information from another country will empower them and advance the cause of safety.” Many governments regularly publish product safety recalls on their own Websites, but the OECD portal offers a single access point and makes the information available in more than 100 languages. Other jurisdictions are encouraged to join the initiative.

OECD provides a forum for governments and other stakeholders to develop and improve policies in a wide range of areas, including consumer product safety. The current work on product safety was initiated in response to concerns that emerged during the 2007 “summer of recalls.” Since then, consumer product safety experts from member and non-member countries have been reviewing their product safety regimes and examining ways to enhance information exchanges on problem products and injuries within and across jurisdictions.