October 8, 2007

recall agency isn't perfect

I read a disturbing story in the New York Times today about a recalled tile sealant product. Recalls these days seem commonplace, so that in itself wasn't a surprise. It caught my attention because I happened to be having a (separate, unrelated) floor sealant issue in my home. I'm glad my issue was nothing compared to what these people were experiencing!

But as the article points out, the thing that is most alarming is not just that a faulty product got to market or that it was recalled. The most disturbing part is that after the recall was issued, the product remained on the shelves. The company reformulated with another ingredient which contained the same problematic, injury inducing chemical as the first version.

The NYT reports, "Critics say the Stand ’n Seal case demonstrates how the Consumer Product Safety Commission is too overwhelmed with reports of injuries and with new hazards to comprehensively investigate or follow up on many complaints. The agency’s laboratory is also so antiquated it did not have the equipment necessary to evaluate fully the remedy (the company) offered — leaving the agency to rely largely on the company’s promise that it would fix the problem.
And then, after receiving repeated complaints that the hazard persisted long after the recall, the agency failed to follow up adequately, documents show."

I don't have any answers on how to improve the effectiveness of the CPSC. Just feeling a little more skeptical of the effectiveness of agencies which are meant to protect us.

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