Time to Recall the Consumer Product Recall System? —– “Let the Buyer Beware”
On April 30, 2009, Jardine Enterprises, a major manufacturer of cribs for infants, in conjunction with federal product-safety regulators, expanded a recall of their products. The recall of infant cribs manufactured by Jardine was originally issued last June. This most recent action is the second expansion of the additional recall. The ever increasing number of potentially lethal cribs added an additional 96,000 cribs to the initial recall which included 320,000 cribs and 28 models, and the first expansion of the recall. In January of this year, a supplemental recall increased the number of defective cribs by 56,450, and adding three additional models. Thursday’s expansion adds 96,000 cribs to the nearly 400,000 already recalled, and it comes amid regulatory efforts to improve crib safety following the recalls of 4.2 million cribs of varying brands during the past two years. The reason for the recall was the result of wooden slats and spindles that can break, entrap and strangle infants.
The recalls highlight problems not only with crib safety but also with the consumer-product-recall system. Many buyers or users of the recalled products never know of the recall. Recalls aren’t required to be widely advertised by crib makers, and many users don’t respond when they become aware, typically assuming their product is an exception because they haven’t experienced problems with it. That leaves hundreds of thousands of potentially hazardous cribs in homes, day-care centers and some secondhand stores that don’t stay informed about recalled products.
At the time of Jardine’s original recall, CPSC acting chairwoman Nancy Nord said the wood Jardine had used “was not as strong as it should be.” Still, the agency allowed similar models of Jardine cribs to continue being sold because it said it hadn’t received any complaints about them.
Consumers must take upon themselves to research manufacturers and products before and after purchases. A regular visit to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. http://www.cpsc.gov is a good start, but don’t end it there. Be alert, report faulty products to the manufacturer, and alert the CPSC if you have any concerns. Recalls of thousands of dangerous products begin with the eyes and voices of the diligent consumer. Encourage your Senator or Congressman to open discussion and explore changes in the reporting requirements of those manufacturers who produce a dangerous product, to advertise any and all recalls. A dash of bad press could be the key ingredient necessary to sift out the hazardous products from our recipe for consumer safety.