The United States Food and Drug Administration categorize all recalls into one of three classes according to the level of hazard involved.
Class I recalls are for dangerous or defective products that predictably could cause serious health problems or death. Examples of products that could fall into this category are a food found to contain botulinal toxin, food with undeclared allergens, a label mix-up on a life saving drug, or a defective artificial heart valve.
Class II recalls are for products that might cause a temporary health problem, or pose only a slight threat of a serious nature. One example is a drug that is under-strength but that is not used to treat life-threatening situations.
Class III recalls are for products that are unlikely to cause any adverse health reaction, but that violate FDA labeling or manufacturing regulations. Examples might be a container defect (plastic material delaminating or a lid that does not seal); off-taste, color, or leaks in a bottled drink, and lack of English labeling in a retail food.