Busy Week at the Consumer Product Safety Commission – Recalls, recalls, recalls
Concerns about the safety of toys manufactured in China continued to grow today as seven (that’s right – SEVEN) separate recalls were announced today by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in the United States. Metal jewelry, puppet theaters, gardening tools and toy trains comprise this week’s “main attractions” at what has become weekly announcements of tens of thousands of affected products.
Although undoubtedly the store shelves will not be empty during the upcoming holiday shopping season, the sheer number of products geared entirely toward children, which have now been deemed unsafe, almost all of whom violate the lead paint standards for U.S. products, may be overwhelming for people trying to make educated, safe decisions when purchasing toys for children.
CEOs of the each of the affected companies have been apologizing profusely for the problems relating to their now-recalled, tainted products. These apologies do little to assuage the fears and concerns of purchasers nationwide as it now seems almost impossible to determine what is a safe product to buy and what is not. Hal Stratton, the Chairman of the CPSC sums up those concerns, “Before purchasing or giving any gift, particularly one intended for a child, double-check to make sure it does not pose a hazard,” Stratton said. “Visit CPSC’s Web site to determine if it has been recalled.”
The problems seem not to stem from the failure of the manufacturers to implement the proper standards, but the abject failure (at least until this spate of recalls) to ensure that the Chinese companies who are making the products are complying with those standards and/or to do independent testing of any type to ensure compliance. Major companies like Mattel and Target have issued recalls which have involved millions of toys during the last 60 days. Each time a recall is announced the companies have cooperated with the CPSC in the investigation, reporting and recall.
Of course, this is the right thing to do, from a public responsibility point of view and from a marketing point of view. All of this after-the-fact responsibility is fine, but doesn’t there need to be a push to get the horse before the cart? At some point BEFORE the cart gets recalled?