Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A penny for your cheap labor

Is it just me, or do there seem to be an awful lot of recalls on children’s products lately? Earlier this month, Mattel announced a huge recall of toddler toys because of excessive levels of lead in the paint. We had one of the models – a Sesame Street barnyard block set – but it wasn’t manufactured during the period subject to the recall and therefore presumably safe. But is it really?

My first reaction to the recall was anger. Here I am a mother doing everything in my power to keep my daughter safe. I routinely check her toys for loose or small parts. I cut drawstrings from her clothes. I reinforce wobbly buttons. I buy toys in the age range marked on the box. And now I have to worry about her chewing on a toy and ingesting lead because a conglomerate and its shareholders have opted for profit over safety by shipping production overseas. (Don’t even get me started on the politicians who think outsourcing is good for the country.)

Then two weeks ago I went to Wal-Mart to buy Ladybug’s organic rice cereal. I found it in its usual spot with the baby products and took it to the checkout aisle. The cashier attempted to scan it several times and then realized it too had been recalled. What if I had fallen on a cashier who just asked me the price and entered it manually as they sometimes do?

Then yesterday we received an email that the Britax carseat we had purchased – and bought because of its superior safety rating, mind you – has been recalled because its shoulder harness can detach. (Click HERE to see if your car seat is included and how to order a repair kit.) It would seem to me that if you’re in the business of making car seats and that’s your specialty, it wouldn’t take you two years to realize the defect. Never mind the fact that it shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

And those are just the recalls. Take a walk down any toy aisle and you’ll see dozens of products that shouldn’t even be on the shelves – charm bracelets with lead, baby toys with glued on pom-poms and button eyes, toddler toys with long strings. And then there are the parenting magazines that warn of the dangers of crib bumper pads on one page and advertise them on the next. What’s a mother to do?

I never take Ladybug’s safety for granted. I’m always extra diligent. I mean, good grief, the first thing in the suitcase when we travel is a pack of outlet covers. But all of this goes to show a mother’s work is never done.

By the way, if you’re interested in seeing the latest recalled items, click HERE for the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s database. You can also sign up for email alerts by clicking HERE.

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