Wednesday, August 22, 2007

In The Time of Recalls

With all this hullabaloo about lead in children's toys, I figured I'd better check the Consumer Product Safety Commission's web site and see what the fuss was all about. The word "recall" has seeped into my brain as I walked down the isles of Target seeing familiar toys with warning signs on them, as I skim through the paper past pictures of Barbie, Elmo and Dora and even before bed as shows like Nightline investigate the effects of lead paint on children's brains. It's enough to make one sick, paranoid and or pine for the days when all you had were a stack of plain wooden blocks and your imagination.

Nonetheless, I spent some time on the SPSC's web site and was shocked to see so many familiar products that had been recalled due to strangulation, choking, aspiration, lead poisoning, laceration, burn and entrapment hazards. Thomas the Tank Engine we may all know about, but how about excess lead in chalk sold at Toys R Us, or the rings/straps of the Maya wrap and other baby carriers detaching. These are the everyday items of life with kids: pacifiers, sippy cups, teethers, high chairs, bouncy seats, books, bike seats and clothing. And it is not just the dollar trees and walmarts of the world selling no name products, it is the well known companies like Matell, Fischer Price, Pottery Barn, Graco, Brio, Playtex, Little Tikes, Stride-Rite, Gymboree, Schwinn, Kelty, Gerber, Evenflo, Playskool, Peg Perego and the like.

In the last two months I have returned two products that were recalled due to choking hazards, a Battat cell phone and a Little Tree imagination wooden cart. Certainly lead paint is inexcusable, as are poorly made products, but really, how far does the manufacturers responsibility go? What really gets me is that after any recall (remember the Easy Bake Oven and Avent Bottles?) the goodwills and secondhand stores are full of them. What kind of sense it that... pass on a dangerous product to someone of lesser income?

With so many products on the market there is no doubt that some will fail and cause injury. Companies need to be held accountable and we the damned consumer need to know what the heck were buying. And as I type this, the sounds of a Melissa and Doug battery sounds wooden puzzle are going off randomly (a frog croaking late into the night, the annoying bark, bark, bark of some generic, mechanical dog), and I know these are the signs of our consumer culture gone bat tat taty.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The world is such a dangerous place. WOnder if there are toy recalls in Iraq these days? George Bush is a regular Santi Claus!