September 4, 2007

Media Frenzy: More Recalls, More Hollow Industry Reassurance

So when I posted two days ago that there were more Mattel recalls coming down the pike, I didn't think I meant today.

  • But there you have it, the AP is reporting Mattel is recalling 675,000 Barbie accessories for lead paint. The toys were manufactured "between Sept. 30, 2006, and Aug. 20, 2007". Mattel is also recalling 9,000 Fisher-Price Bongo Band toys made in July and August 2007. That's toys made during and after the first big Mattel recalls, and during the initial lead paint recall investigations. Nice. [ap/google, check the cpsc site for recall details]

  • Meanwhile, Dorel Juvenile Group, who put the Industrial in Baby Industrial Complex, are recalling 19 models of car seats, including Cosco, Eddie Bauer and Safety 1st, for harness slippage problems. The recall started in Canada, and affects seats manufactured between Nov. 1, 2003 and Dec. 31, 2005. The recall affects over 300,000 car seats in Canada, and an undetermined number in the US. People with affected seats should contact Dorel for a harness repair kit. [chicago tribune and via consumerist]


  • Whoa, a recall of Netto Collection cribs?? 400 Moderne and Loft collection cribs with date codes 9/03 and 02/04, which were sold in the US between Oct. 2003 and June 2005 are affected. Apparently, there have been three reports of spindles coming out of the top of the side rail, creating a gap that poses a strangulation hazard. No injuries reported. Affected cribbers should contact Netto Collection to get some new side rails. [So what's that mean, Netto was producing 200 cribs/month in '04? Update your designer nursery business plan pro formas accordingly. recall details via]

    And what better way to end this recall recap, than with a reassuring message from Your Baby Industrial Complex's Fearless Leader, the JPMA? After the Baby Bargains folks withdrew their endorsement of plastic bottles--in a post called JPMA-gate, btw--the JPMA sent out an alert to their members claiming incorrectly that the NIH's Toxicology panel "concluded that there is no reason for parents to be concerned about the use of polycarbonate plastic baby bottles," and that "[t]he panel concluded that exposure to BPA through polycarbonate plastic does not pose any serious risk to infants, children or adults."

    Not true. The panel actually found there was "some concern" about potential neurological and behavioral effects of BPA exposure in utero, in newborns and in children, and that it warranted much more study. The JPMA tried to spin this "some concern" designation as a mere technicality in order to trigger research, but the truth remains, the Toxicology Panel's review of the skimpy existing BPA research raises concerns specifically for pregnant women and kids.

    The JPMA's action item? "JPMA asks publications like Baby Bargains to NOT give in to the media frenzy and look into the quality scientific data available on the safety of plastic baby bottles." [Emphasis added for entertainment value.]


    Sounds scary. Parents have to really be careful when buying toys. Better still, make your own.

    The thing that frightens me is not that Mattell is recalling more toys. They're probably scrambling right now to test everything they've ever sold that was made in China to avoid potential lawsuits.
    What frightens me is that we haven't heard from other toy companies. My guess is they're profiting off of Mattel's misfortune and selling lead painted toys hand over fist.

    You know, we have one of the carseats on the list and a friend of ours has the Britax Decathalon that was recalled very recently for a very similar issue. They send you an adjustment kit in the mail and you fix the seat.
    That doesn't bother me NEARLY as much as all these toy recalls. I can understand carseat companies producing hundreds of thousands of seats and having a small glitch where the harness loostens a bit too easily. The companies learn this because over time parents report a problem and they work to fix the problem.
    But it is absolutely beyond my realm of understanding when millions *and we're up to millions now!* of potentially hazardous toys made by ONE company have ended up in the hands of our children!

    It really is sickening!

    [I feel the same way, mostly. The car seat recall isn't one of those Notch of Death defects that goes ignored for years, or the Spin&Dump breakaway handles which the industry seems to love so much. Still, the seats WERE all sold two+ years ago... -ed.]

    Speaking of recalls, some of the "Moderne" and "Loft" Cribs made by NettoCollection have been hit. The crib slats can separate from the side rails.

    Here's the URL:

    [yeah, I should mention that, maybe even include a picture... -ed.]

    I think I should make a little addition to my comment after rereading it just to make it clear that I don't want to downplay carseat recalls AT ALL. Especially dangerous recalls that should have been caught in production...
    What I really meant by my comment is that to me it is just far more sickening when something that can be simply tested for *lead paint for example* ends up on millions of childrens' toys than when after often months of use it's found that the harness on some carseats can loosen a little too easily between uses (which if you tighten the harness each time you put your child in the car shouldn't be much of an issue).

    Lead paint doesn't just one day show up. While there are often unforeseen problems with carseats, many that develop over time, every carseat is inspected. Each and every unit of toys can and should be tested for lead. It would save a lot of trouble and danger.

    I said something similar the last time this sort of thing was mentioned (well, somewhere in the last 8-9 times it was mentioned, they're all starting to run together), but it just blows my mind that the baby gear marketers seem far more concerned with covering their ass and lowering standards than actually FIXING THE DAMN PROBLEMS.

    They have no problem trying to create a media frenzy when it will sell them a few more useless widgets (Elmo TMX, anyone?). But when it might show them in a bad light...ohhhhhh, well hold on here, we just have to wait until more facts come out -- and we have time to pay a few more of our "research" groups to come up with some studies to muddle the issue a bit.

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