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The Worst Product Recalls Of All Time (PHOTOS, POLL)

First Posted: 04/25/10 06:12 AM ET   Updated: 05/25/11 04:35 PM ET

It's the problem that keeps CEOs and engineers up at night: a massive global product recall.

With more than 9 million cars covered under its latest recall, Toyota's management is certainly under the microscope. (In fact, Toyota is facing both criminal and Congressional probes into its safety problems.) But, in the history of dubious, lawsuit-and-injury-inducing product recalls, they've certainly got company.

For one, Ford has issued a recall of 14 million vehicles over cruise control problems. In 1982, an enormous Tylenol recall forced 31 million bottles off the shelves and killed seven people. Other lowlights in the history of manufacturer malfeasance include E. coli-tainted spinach, a number of toxic or otherwise dangerous children's toys -- including the Easy-Bake Oven, which caused severe burns and in one case resulted in a partial amputation -- and even one case of worm-infested chocolates.

Check out this list of some of the more disturbing product recalls ever:

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  • Easy-Bake Ovens Cause Burns -- 2007

    About a million Easy-Bake Ovens were recalled in 2007 after the government said it received hundreds of reports of children getting their hands stuck inside the toy's opening -- which in 16 cases resulted in second- or third-degree burns. One five-year-old girl was burned severely enough by the toy that she had to have <a href=http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml07/07245.html>one of her fingers</a> partially amputated.

  • Tylenol -- 1982 and 2010

    Within just a few days in 1982, seven people in the Chicago area died suddenly after taking cyanide-laced Extra Strength Tylenol. The company acted quickly, immediately <a href=http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/23/your-money/23iht-mjj_ed3_.html?pagewanted=1>recalling 31 million</a> units of the product. But this year, it took the company much longer to act: after <a href= http://www.csmonitor.com/Money/new-economy/2010/0115/With-Tylenol-recall-2010-a-corporate-icon-stumbles>20 months</a> of complaints that Tylenol medicines had a "musty" odor and led to nausea and other side effects, Tylenol's manufacturer, McNeil Healthcare, issued a broad recall of about <a href=http://abcnews.go.com/Health/WellnessNews/tylenol-problems-affected-extra-strength-rolaids/story?id=9561842>60 million</a> bottles of various products.

  • Explosions In Ford Pintos -- 1978

    In 1978, after evidence showed that the design of the Ford Pinto's gas tank made it susceptible to explosion and fire even in the event of just a minor collision -- and after allegations that the flawed design had led to <a href=http://www.autosafety.org/ford-pinto-fuel-fed-fires>at least three deaths</a> -- 1.5 million of the vehicles were recalled.

  • Chinese Chocolates with Worms -- 2007

    In 2007, moth larvae were found crawling out of holes in Chinese-made counterfeit chocolates. The discovery led to a recall that many worried would be a blow to the "made-in-China" brand.

  • Defective Firestone Tires -- 2000

    In 2000, more than 14 million defective Firestone tires <a href=http://www.nytimes.com/2000/10/26/business/proceedings-are-consolidated-in-federal-tire-recall-cases.html?pagewanted=1>were recalled</a> after the government received <a href=http://www.nytimes.com/2000/12/07/business/29-more-us-deaths-linked-to-firestone-tires.html?pagewanted=1>25 reports</a> of deaths connected to tire-tread separation.

  • Roman-Style Blinds Lead To Strangulation -- 2009

    Late last year, after at least six children died from strangulation, <a href=http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/12/15/blind-recall-50-million-r_n_392545.html>50 million</a> Roman-style blinds -- "virtually every Roman blind and roller shade on the market" -- were recalled.

  • Tainted Chinese Dairy -- 2008

    In 2008, melamine-tainted baby formula <a href=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7624969.stm>killed four infants</a> and resulted in the hospitalization of thousands more. The melamine -- an industrial chemical -- had reportedly been added to diluted milk products in an effort to make them appear to be higher in protein than they actually were. Later, contamination was found to be widespread in the Chinese dairy supply, leading to a blanket recall of nearly all the liquid milk in the country.

  • Oil-Filled Electric Heaters -- 2007

    In 2007, after 59 reports of incidents involving Holmes electric heaters, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission <a href=http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml07/07168.html>announced</a> the recall of about 300,000 Holmes oil-filled units, which they said had resulted in twelve cases of minor injuries and four cases of burns.

  • Lead-Filled Thomas The Train Toys -- 2007

    About <a href= http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml07/07212.html>1.5 million</a> Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway Toys were recalled in 2007 after paint on the toys was found to contain lead, which is toxic if ingested and particularly harmful to children under the age of six.

  • Cribs Recalled Over Suffocation Risks -- 2010

    Generation 2 Worldwide and “ChilDesigns” drop-side cribs were <a href=http://blogs.consumerreports.org/safety/2010/02/generation-2-worldwide-and-childesigns-dropside-cribs-recalled.html>recalled earlier this month</a> after several infants suffocated when they got trapped between the drop-side and the mattress.

  • E. Coli In Bagged Spinach -- 2006

    In 2006, at least <a href=http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/02/opinion/02mon3.html>187 people</a> became sick and at least one died after eating bagged spinach tainted with E. coli bacteria. The outbreak was traced to a processing plant in California and led to the recall of multiple brands.

  • Salmonella In Peanut Butter Products -- 2009

    In January 2009, the Peanut Corporation of America issued a recall of its bulk peanut butter on fears of salmonella contamination. But because the bulk peanut butter was used as an ingredient in thousands of other packaged foods, the recall was soon expanded to include <a href= http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/peanutbutterrecall/index.cfm>3918</a> food products.

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Filed by Ryan McCarthy  |