Thursday, November 22, 2007

Toy Recalls

I had already done some of my Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving, especially for toys. As I mentioned in my November 9th blog, I don’t enjoy toy stores.

I do have sympathy for parents and others who are shopping for toys this year because of all the recent toy recalls. Some examples are lead paint; parts that can break off and cause choking, toy parts that when ingested can metabolize like the drug GHB and be toxic, etc. It’s a minefield to navigate. Is nothing safe?

Several websites are available to inform consumers, who probably trust that the stores have already removed recalled items. Some have taken the approach to avoid any item made in China. I say good luck to them.

Who to blame and what to do about it? The US Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) should be the watchdog, but lax policies and recent excuses from acting chairwoman Nancy Nord seems to indicate no one has been minding the store. Many have called for Nord’s resignation. Businesses, in the desire to reduce costs and increase profits, have outsourced even more toy manufacturing and then trusted these manufacturers to use products that would not be harmful. It’s a train wreck all around, with the consumer left to pick up the pieces.

While I dread the thought of more government regulation, the toy recalls have made me wonder, what else is coming into the US in the shape of food or other consumer products that are not properly checked for harmful ingredients? Clearly something needs to be done on a wider scale. We can and should continue to trade in a global environment, but we have to protect ourselves to make sure other countries manufacture products to our specifications.

As far as toy shopping this year, my suggestion is – give cash instead!

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