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Recalls Not Effective at Removing Hazardous Children’s Products from Homes, Report Finds

Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

A report issued Feb. 18 finds that only 10% of children’s products that were recalled in 2012 were successfully corrected, replaced or returned. The report comes as the Consumer Product Safety Commission considers a proposal that would increase its ability to punish companies that don’t do enough to address defective products.

The annual report from Kids in Danger finds that the number of children’s product recalls in 2013 increased 18% from 2012, from 97 to 114. The percentage of total CPSC recalls accounted for by children’s products rose from 28% to 39% despite the fact that the number of units of children’s products recalled fell from 13.0 million to 11.2 million. The most recalled children’s products were clothing (29% of total recalls and 10% of total units recalled), nursery products (22%/24%), toys (20%/3%), furniture (12%/39%), and outdoor and sports items (10%/3%). Recalls involving lead or lead paint dropped to two in 2013 from 109 in 2007.

The report also examines how effective the recalls from 2012 were in removing dangerous products from homes. Consumers held nearly 82% of children’s products recalled in 2012, but only 4.6% of these goods were corrected or destroyed. Distributors and retailers held another 8.2% of recalled items, and the percentage of those goods subject to remedial action was about 52%. Recalled goods under the control of manufacturers (e.g., in their warehouses or on retail shelves) were successfully recalled 94% of the time but accounted for only 0.67% of the total units held.

Given these figures, the report calls on the CPSC, manufacturers, retailers and consumers to focus more attention on getting recalled products fixed or out of the hands of consumers. One recommendation is for companies to use social media to publicize recall notices the same way they use it for marketing purposes. There were 63 recalls in 2013 involving manufacturers that had an active Facebook page, the report states, but in only nine of those situations did the manufacturer mention the recall on that page. There were similar numbers (63 recalls, eight mentions) for manufacturers with an active Twitter page. Four of the nine Facebook posts, but only one of the eight Twitter posts, were used to downplay the message of the recall (e.g., evasive or misleading reason for recall).

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