If you are like me, you are tired of hearing about toy recalls and the gross failures of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to protect our children; however, I feel it is important to stay updated on the information for my children’s sakes. Recent news on the Thomas the Tank Engine recall settlement, Mattel’s refusal to recall lead-tainted toys, and the impotent CPSC demonstrate that the problem of toy safety and international manufacturing has not gone away.
The Impotent CPSC
I have written many posts on the CPSC’s failures. Now, for the second time in a year, the agency will become useless, as it loses its quorum. The CPSC requires three members on the panel; however, only two members are currently holding positions. The extension granted by Congress to operate with only two members expired in January. According to the Washington Post,
Congress has not passed another one, and the Bush administration has not nominated a new chairman who could restore quorum since its last pick, industry lobbyist Michael E. Baroody, withdrew his name in May after protest by Senate Democrats and consumer groups.
Of course, the agency can still oversee voluntary recalls, but they can no longer issue mandatory recalls or impose civil penalties. What a relief…I feel so protected!
Thomas the Tank Engine Recall Settlement
Oh, Thomas the Tank Engine, the toy that brought lead-tainted recalls to the middle and upper class society. RC2, the company that makes Thomas, has agreed to pay a $30 million to settle a nationwide class-action lawsuit. Consumers have been offered cash refunds and replacements for their lead painted toys, as well as a bonus toy. Ironically, the bonus toy Toad sent to 2000 families contained lead levels up to four times higher than acceptable levels and was thus recalled. I think I’ll take the cash.
Thank goodness the CPSC has the power to oversee voluntary recalls, since Mattel has refused to issue voluntarily recall of a Fisher-Price plastic toy blood-pressure cuff toy sold with lead levels at eight times the legal limit. As Treehugger explains,
Granted, they did begin accepting them back from any retailer or customer nationwide who called a toll-free number beginning in December along with a recall in Illinois, but they did not recall the toy nationwide nor widely publicize the problem as they would have been required to do under the guidelines of an official recall.
Once again, children in Illinois are offered more protection than the rest of the country. Thank goodness for voluntary recalls! As quoted in the New York Times, Donald Mays, senior director of product safety at Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports, explains, “If it was an official recall, the Consumer Product Safety Commission would be tracking the return rate. Now you’re just taking the company’s word for it.”
Once again, I remind parents to get to know the toy company’s values, beliefs, social responsibility, etc. before purchasing toys for your children. It is incredible to me that we are even having this discussion about toy safety in this country, but until there is more oversight in the globalization of toy production, the problem will not go away. Local or green toy companies are the only way to protect your children. The CPSC won’t do it for you!
Image courtesy of Treehugger.