Keep Our Families Safe
Dangerous Products Are Still On the Shelves
Be careful! There may be more dangerous products on the shelves than you think.
A recent investigation by Consumer Reports magazine reveals that dozens of dangerous products that violate federal safety regulations are finding their way onto store shelves, and hundreds of other recalled items that have been banned for sale in the United States are being sold overseas.
The investigation, based on a decade’s worth of government public safety records and shopping at more than one dozen stores, found that weak laws and lax federal enforcement are allowing some manufacturers and importers to flaunt federal and voluntary industry safety standards.
As a result, according to Consumer Reports, consumers are buying “potentially lethal products.” Some of these include: defective extension cords and electrical items that can overheat and burn; fake ground-fault circuit interrupter plugs that malfunction and fail to trip when there is an electrical overload; toys that can cut, choke or poison young children; counterfeit batteries that leak acid, overheat and spark; and disposable lighters that leak fuel and explode. Many of these good are counterfeits, using bogus labels designed to look like well-known brand-name items.
The magazine specifically faulted the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) for allowing these problems to persist. It cited a drastic decline in the CPSC’s budget and staffing, and said that the agency had been inadequately and inconsistently enforcing safety laws and policing store shelves.
Consumer Reports called on Congress to increase the agency’s budget and to enact new laws banning the export of recalled products and to give the agency more power to publicize unsafe products. The magazine also asked that CPSC to increase its factory and store inspections and to beef up its enforcement of repeat violators.
Not unsurprisingly, the CPSC maintains that it is as vigilant as it has ever been at policing store shelves for unsafe products. But when Consumer Reports visited dollar stores, drug stores and other discount stores, they found 48 toys, nearly one-third of the total purchased, violated mandatory federal or voluntary industry safety standards.
In addition, the magazine found that inspections of stores and factories had dropped from 1,130 in 1999 to 500 in 2004.
A survey of the agency’s records also found that between 1994 and 2004, about 900 products that the agency deemed unsafe were exported to other countries.
Allowing manufacturers to continue to export unsafe products removes any incentive they may have to mend their ways, and provides a back door to get rid of the product and still make a profit. In order to protect American consumers, we shouldn’t endanger consumers abroad.