“The entire process designed to protect our children from unsafe products is a disaster. The Consumer Product Safety Commission is understaffed and underfunded and uninterested. They don’t do any testing. As a parent, what are we supposed to do, become amateur scientists?”
– Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan
Oddly, it took a massive pet food recall before the U.S. media finally played up stories of dangerous products hurting adults and children every day. If you really want to scare yourself, check out this link, which is a compilation of The New York Times product safety stories.
Here are some recent headlines:
- As More Toys Are Recalled, Trail Ends in China
- F.D.A Tracked Poisoned Drugs, but Trail Went Cold in China
- When Fakery Turns Fatal
- A TOXIC PIPELINE: Tracking Counterfeit Drugs; From China to Panama, a Trail of Poisoned Medicine
- F.D.A. Curbs Sale of Five Seafoods Farmed in China
- Food-Safety Crackdown in China
- Chinese Tires Are Ordered Recalled
While this particular raft of stories are all out of China, dangerous products are also homegrown or come out of developing nations such as India and Mexico.
Despite the sudden press coverage, will the media be able to affect any change? I have my doubts. Consider Lisa Madigan’s quote I highlighted at the top of this post.
Madigan is talking to the Chicago Tribune about the recall of 1.5 million Thomas and Friends wooden trains, which I mentioned last week. Why? Because it turns out that a spot check of retailers shows the lead-painted Thomas trains are still available at many Illinois stores. Worse, it turns out that some of the contaminated trains, which were packaged with uncontaminated models, were never recalled at all.
This mirrors the massive failed recall of Magnetix toys that the Chicago Tribune revealed in May. I say failed because many of the dangerous toys remain on the market.
At Seth’s birthday party on Sunday a dad told me how he had to take one of his kids to the emergency room after swallowing a Magnetix magnet. (Recalls seldom reach the ears of parents who already own toys.) The child is fortunate that he/she only swallowed one, because several will attract to each other and then rip through the intestines. Doctors are waiting for the child to pass the magnet naturally.
It’s not just toys that have become dangerous in recent years. Meat and produce contaminated with e. coli has scared many parents. Recently there was a beef recall and now the U.S. government is banning imports of Chinese seafood because unapproved animal drugs and additives keep turning up in tests.
Other seafood problems include salmonella contamination, pesticides and filth. The banned seafood targets shrimp, catfish, eel, basa and dace. In fact, 60 percent of seafood sent to the United States is rejected at the border, according to the Times story.
When I asked an FDA inspector a few weeks ago this question: “So, if you were a parent, what would you do?” the response was: “I would not give ANY food from China to my kids.” (Quotes are approximate recollection.) Note that Vietnamese seafood is not much better, reports the Times.
This week, a snack popular with kids called Veggie Booty is being recalled for possible salmonella contamination that has sickened at least 52 people in 17 states, reports The San Diego Union-Tribune. I don’t buy it too often because it’s not real food, but my son thinks the stuff is awesome. Here’s the details on getting a refund on your Veggie Booty.
My point is this: We cannot trust anyone – manufacturers, importers or governments. No one is protecting us or our children well enough to breath easy. Don’t expect it to change anytime soon.