Thursday, March 20, 2008

It's worse than I thought...

I've questioned before in past blogs, somewhat tongue in cheek, whether the Chinese are out to get us with bad products. We've had recall after recall of toxic lead painted trinkets and toys, toasters that catch on fire when empty, lights that break and fall on heads, candles that burn strange and potentially cause fires, and the list goes on an on.

Now it's serious. I still have no idea whether this is just shoddy regulations and manufacturing or whether it's a sinister plot to undermine our economy and cause brain damage in our children (lead painted toys). However, the following story escalated the problem regarding bad products exponentially in my mind.

A child died. Now maybe there have been other deaths and I have simply missed the stories. I missed the one below when it occurred (the story below is about the resolution and fine for distributing the trinket that caused the problem).

I have decided that even if I have to pay a bit more, I won't be buying anything that says "Made in China". I may find that I end up buying nothing the way things are going! Like many, I have rather trusted our government to regulate the quality of imported products --- enforce those standards. If I'd thought about it, I'd have known better. My goodness, they can't inspect the foods and products made in this country, how in the world are they supposed to inspect the stuff coming from other places?

Here's an idea for some bright entrepreneur... There are carbon monoxide monitors, smoke detectors, all kinds of testers and monitors being made. What about a lead content monitor? A little device we could use when buying products to detect lead. I bet the government wouldn't allow that patent to go through! Can you imagine what it would be like if we were able to do something like that? The government would be bombarded with calls to recall products!

However, in thinking about it, what would really happen is some huge consortium of manufacturer would buy up the patent for umpteen million dollars just so they could continue to operate on the cheap. I'm all for capitalism, just happen to draw the line when it comes to making money when my family is paying the price in potential health problems (or death as was the case with the little four year old in the story below).

Reebok to Pay Record $1,000,000 Civil Penalty for Violation of FederalHazardous Substances Act

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that a manufacturer of athletic shoes and apparel has agreed to pay the government a $1,000,000 civil penalty. This penalty, which has been provisionally accepted, is the largest for a Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA) violation and follows a recall announced by CPSC and Reebok of 300,000 bracelets.

The penalty settles allegations that Reebok International Ltd., of Canton, Mass., imported and distributed charm bracelets that contained toxic levels of lead. The charm bracelets were provided as free gifts with the purchase of various styles of children's footwear. In March 2006, a 4-year-old boy from Minneapolis who swallowed the bracelet's heart-shaped pendant died. The FHSA bans toxic levels of accessible lead in toys and other children's products. CPSC's enforcement policy urges manufacturers of children's metal jewelry to keep lead content below 0.06% by weight.

"This civil penalty sends a clear message that the CPSC will not allow companies to put children's safety at risk," said CPSC Acting Chairman Nancy Nord. "Preventing dangerous metal jewelry from reaching the hands of children is a priority for our agency."

In agreeing to settle the matter, Reebok denies that it violated federal law.

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