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Are warning labels effectively warning consumers about risks?

Consumers in Pennsylvania are often concerned about the quality and safety of the products he or she purchases no matter the type of the product. It is important not only to consider the manufacturer of the good but also to know that steps have been taken to ensure the safety concerns about the product have been addressed. Whether there are known risks, potential dangers or the possibility of the misuse of a product, placing a warning label on a product allows for a product to remain on the self. But do warning labels serve their purpose and alert consumers about the risks of an item?

Because advocates have pushed for various types of warning labels to be placed on certain goods, it would be reasonable to assume that warning labels serve a purpose and are effective. However, some argue that warning labels are counterproductive and do not actually warn consumers effectively.

According to a recent study, the time lag between reading a warning label and purchasing a product might have the opposite of the intended effect. Because the time is relatively short between reading a warning label and purchasing a product is often small, it is suggested that consumers who look at these warning labels encourages an unfounded trust both in the manufacturer and the potentially dangerous product the consumer is purchasing.

While past studies have shown that warning labels would cause an immediate concern and a decrease in consumption of a product with a warning label, over time, this pattern has shifted. In fact, it is believed that warning labels are now causing positive evaluations of potentially dangerous products and an increase in actual purchases.

Consumers no longer view warning labels as an alert for potential dangers but rather a certification that manufacturers considered the risks of the product, thus making the product safe for consumption. In order to ensure that warning labels are addressed appropriately, the study suggests designing a way to increase the delay between reading a warning label and purchasing and consuming a product.

While warning labels could serve as a excellent way to avoid consumer injuries, not all warning labels are effective. If safety concerns are not properly addressed or a warning label is ineffective, an injured consumer should consider his or her legal remedies. A products liability suit could help a victim recover compensation for his or her losses and damages.

Source: Psych Central, "Are Warning Labels Counterproductive?" Rick Nauert, accessed June 10, 2015.

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