Recalls unsuccessful in removing dangerous child products from homes, report says

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CHICAGO — A new report released Tuesday by a child safety advocacy group revealed that returns on recalled children’s products was disproportionately low.

The report, issued by Kids in Danger based in Chicago, looked at safety recalls on children’s products throughout 2013 as well as how effective 2012 recalls were in removing unsafe products from homes.

The report noted that the number of recalled children’s products recalled increased 18 percent from 2012 to 2013, and, while there was a decrease in the number of incidents and injuries, there was an increase in the number of incident-related deaths.

It also stated that only 10 percent of recalled products were returned, replaces or repaired, meaning that many dangerous products remained in households.

“The return rate of recalls is really abysmal,” Nancy Cowles, KID’s executive director, told USA Today. “The government makes announcements, but people don’t hear about them or don’t respond.”

The advocacy group said companies and regulators often wait to long to issue recalls — it takes about 13 reports of design issues and two injuries to warrant a recall — which results in more children injuries and deaths.

Companies and regulators also missed out on new opportunities, like social media, to get information to consumers, said KID.

According to Julie Vallese, a spokeswoman for the Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association, there has consistently been a low response rate to recalled children’s products and it’s something her organization has been analyzing for some time.

Though, she criticized the report, saying it was looking at the problem inaccurately.

“Return rates for products are a poor indicator of recall effectiveness since a variety of factors affect how consumers decide to respond,” said Vallese.

She added that companies are looking to improve how they distribute information about recalls, and JPMA began an education campaign called “It’s Not Hard to Fill Out the Card” to encourage parents to fill out registration cards that come with the juvenile products — this ensures companies can efficiently get the word out to consumers in the event of a recall.

The overarching issue expressed by both Cowles and Vallese centered on how these companies were communicating with their consumers.

Companies should generate as much publicity about recalls as they do about their products, said Cowles.

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