The number of children's products recalled in 2011 dropped by nearly one-fourth, but 32 percent of those recalls were backed by injury reports, according to a report just out from Kids in Danger.
The safety advocacy group said it could not explain the drop in the number of recalls "because of the secrecy surrounding the recall process. We don't know if CPSC (the Consumer Product Safety Commission) looked to recall more products and were unable to persuade manufacturers, or if this represents a decrease in dangerous products in the marketplace. It is clear that recalls for lead violations and drop-side cribs were down, just as new requirements for standards and testing came into effect."
The number of products fixed or replaced remains "largely unchanged the past few years," the CSPC said in an article this week in USA Today. "Only 15 percent to 30 percent of products are sent back or repaired, but some high-profile recalls get higher response rates."
According to the report, 121 of the products recalled by CPSC were children's products. Nursery products made up the largest category of those (30 percent), followed by toys (26 percent).
It said the "most injurious" product before being recalled was little girls' Keds shoes "with decorative stars that caused 27 reports of lacerations."
Three deaths occurred: two from strangulations involving a nursery monitor and one entrapment in a bunk bed.
Three of the products had been reported at least 100 times before being recalled, according to Kids in Danger, including a swing set, a remote control helicopter and a pogo stick.
The challenge in some cases may be reaching the consumers who actually purchased the products. "Stores track shoppers' purchases closely, but their ability to link a person with a purchase depends on the payment method, whether the consumer has a store loyalty card and privacy issues," Kevin Stemeckert, retail research chief at technology advisory firm Gartner Group, told USA Today. He said that online retailers could most easily contact consumers.
Kids in Danger noted that "there are many products on SaferProducts.gov with serious injuries that have not been recalled." That is a commission-sponsored site where consumers can report safety issues with products directly to the CSPC.
Creation of a site where consumers could write their own warnings about products was not popular with businesses when it was proposed. But the Philadelphia Inquirer's Jeffrey Gelles reported this week that: "...The vast majority of 6,000 reports in the first 10 months involve newer, well-identified products and reports from consumers themselves, in contrast to opponents' warnings that third-party advocates would clog the database and that manufacturers would be harmed by vague gripes involving older products.
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