A new joint study by U.S. PIRG and Kids in Danger (KID) has found that 1 in 10 surveyed childcare centers were still using at least one recalled inclined infant sleeper product from Fisher-Price or Kids II over two months after the April recalls that affected over 5 million units total. The study reached out to childcare centers in Wisconsin, Texas, and Georgia throughout June and July, and received 376 responses from childcare centers with children under one year old. State laws in Wisconsin and Texas ban recalled products at childcare facilities, but the study found that their rates of recalled sleeper use did not differ from the rates in Georgia. This study raises questions about the success rate of consumer product recalls since the inclined sleeper recalls have been the most publicized this year, yet even many childcare facilities are unaware and continue to use the products.
It is hard to determine a reliable number for recall response rates since individual companies do not have to publicize how many remedies they fulfilled and both the number of remedies as well as the rationale for the number varies by source. According to the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, a trade association of infant product manufacturers, 80% of recalled products are never returned or fixed. A spokesperson for the JMPA claimed that the low number of recall remedies is largely due to products going out of use or being discarded before recalls are issued. According to Kids in Danger, only 10% of all recalled children’s products are successfully corrected or destroyed. However, this includes all the products still on store shelves or in warehouses. Of the products that were sold to consumers, only 4.6% were successfully corrected or destroyed. KID attributes the low rate of recall remedies to poor publicity of recalls and argues that potentially hazardous, recalled products exist in many unknowing consumer’s homes.
The U.S. PIRG and KID study shows that media coverage of recalls is not sufficient to eliminate the potentially hazardous products in use in consumer homes. Public awareness is limited according to the Executive Director of KID, who said, “Many people say they hear of about two to three recalls per year, when there are typically more than 100 recalls on children’s products alone each year”. Direct communication to product owners is more effective than general public warnings. Congress requires manufacturers of durable infant products to provide consumers with postage-paid recall-only registration cards with each product. Manufacturers can use this information to directly contact customers if a product is recalled but not for any other purpose such as marketing. However, baby products are often resold since they are quickly outgrown, and the new, second-hand owner would not be informed of a potential recall directly from the manufacturer.
Be Cautious of Yard Sales and Secondhand Stores
The problem of recalled products being re-used is not just an issue at childcare centers. Consumer Reports highlights the fact that since most infant and child products are tailored for a specific age, when a child outgrows their product the parents look to resell it. When reselling baby gear, many parents don’t think to check up and see if what they have is still safe. Thus, unwitting parents may acquire what seems like barely used baby gear but could be unaware of a safety hazard that has led to recall. When shopping at yard sales, it is best to generally avoid any baby products, but especially cribs, strollers, bike helmets, and car seats.
Safety Recall Recommendations
To stay informed about any potential recalls on products you own, register all products that come with registration cards and sign up for CPSC recall email alerts.Tagged ChildSafety, defective product, Safety Recalls