Better World

Troubling Study Reveals Many Companies Aren’t Doing Enough For Recalls On Dangerous Kids’ Products

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It’s a fear every parent has: Something we brought into our homes will turn out to be dangerous and harm our kids. Our child’s new favorite toy could break and become a choking hazard. The dresser we assembled to hold their adorable toddler clothes might topple over onto them. The stroller we envisioned using on long walks has a faulty safety strap. You name it, parents worry about it.

In the United States, we have a government safeguard in the form of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). This agency was formed to protect the public from risks posed by dangerous consumer products, by helping to identify hazards and educate the public. The CPSC “recall handbook,” which instructs manufacturers and distributors on how to handle recalls, “encourages companies to be creative in developing ways to reach owners of recalled products and motivate them to respond.”

So, our families are safe, right?

A troubling new report found that companies weren’t doing all they could.

A new report from Kids In Danger (KID), a nonprofit watchdog that fights for kids’ safety, states that many manufacturers of dangerous children’s products aren’t trying as hard as they should to inform the public when recalls occur.

The group sampled 122 product recalls, and found some startling facts. Only 65 percent of the companies involved mentioned the recall on their website. Furthermore, a mere 48 percent promoted the recall information on a social media account.

Are these companies breaking any laws? Not technically, because the suggestions for how they should educate the public are exactly that—only suggestions.

Parents may have to take more of the responsibility for staying informed than we thought.

All recalls are announced on the CPSC website, but parents can’t necessarily rely on their information either. KID found multiple instances on the CPSC site that hyperlinked to unrelated web pages or linked back to CPSC again. These listings sent consumers on a fruitless hunt for the information they need.

KID is calling for the CPSC to strengthen and enforce their requirements around companies communicating product safety and recall information. They also recommend that the CPSC “establish a mandate for companies to provide a recall webpage to ensure that everyone who bought a recalled product has easy access to information to participate in the recall remedy.”

Until then, parents’ safest bet is still checking with CPSC regularly for new recall information. Consumers can also search their site for specific products or types of products, which can be useful if you suspect a specific item might be unsafe. You can also sign up to receive regular updates via email from multiple government agencies here.

Robyn is Editor-in-Chief at ParentsTogether and is co-author of several NYTimes bestselling anthologies. She lives in southern Michigan with her husband and five children.