Only 10 percent of recalled children’s products are ultimately fixed, replaced or destroyed, including less than 5 percent of the products in consumers’ homes, according to an advocacy group. The group, Kids in Danger, announced its findings after analyzing U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) data. The group calculated the recall participation rates based on monthly progress reports for CPSC corrective action plans and incident updates for children’s products recalled from January 2012 to October 2012. Kids in Danger said in a report about CPSC recalls:
CPSC, manufacturers, retailers and consumers need to focus more attention on getting recalled products fixed or out of the hands of consumers. Once products are in consumers’ homes, recall participation rates are abysmal.
The participation rates for manufacturers, distributors and retailers were better than that of consumers, although the three types of companies were only in possession of 18 percent of recalled children’s products, the group said. For instance, it said that manufacturers fixed or destroyed 94 percent of the recalled products in their possession, but possessed less than one percent of the products overall.
To make recalls more effective, the CPSC and manufacturers should work together to speed up the voluntary recall process, according to Kids in Danger. The CPSC should also alert consumers to recalls using a variety of outreach methods, the group said. There were 63 recalls in 2013 involving manufacturers that had a Facebook page, but the manufacturers only mentioned the recall on the social media site nine times. There were the same number of recalls involving manufacturers on Twitter, but companies only mentioned the recall on the site eight times.
The CPSC proposed a rule in November that aims to standardize voluntary recall notices. Under the proposal, companies would be expected to issue a statement for each recall, as well as post a notice on their website and put out in-store posters about the recall. It calls for companies to notify consumers directly when possible. Recall notices posted on social media outlets such as Twitter would be expected to remain prominent for at least 48 hours.
CPSC staff members have said the rule would make recall negotiations quicker and more efficient. But Commissioner Ann Marie Buerkle maintained in a November hearing that the proposal could slow down the recall process. She said that was because the proposal would require companies to adhere to voluntary recall plans or face court action. I am not sure I understand the commissioner’s concern. Kids in Danger and other consumer groups, including Public Citizen and Consumers Union support the proposed voluntary recall rule.
The CPSC could also improve recall effectiveness by making recall information more easily accessible, Kids in Danger had to file Freedom of Information Act requests to view the monthly progress reports. But the CPSC said that 27 of the reports were missing and others were redacted. In addition to examining recall effectiveness, the report compared 2012 and 2013 recall statistics. The number of children’s product recalls increased by 18 percent in 2013. The number of deaths linked to recalled children’s products also increased, by 22 percent, but the number of injuries fell by 16 percent.
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