Stroller recall reflects unsettling trend

By Kyra Hall

Yet another unsafe product manufactured in China was recalled yesterday. Some models of Kolcraft strollers were recalled by the company after several complaints of finger lacerations and amputations caused by the stroller’s hinge came to light. There were five reported cases, including three children whose finger tips were amputated by the mechanism. There are estimated to be 36,000 of these strollers in the U.S.

Though they were manufactured between 2006 and 2009, they were still being sold at stored up until the recall, and the incidents occurred recently. This means that the strollers were on the market for years before the problem hinge resulted in the amputation of three children’s fingertips and the smashed fingers of two adults. This is part of a troubling trend in which unsafe products are released onto the market without the manufacturers realizing it until it is too late.

Products are recalled every day all over the world. Some of these recalls are a precautionary measure taken by the manufacturer in order to avoid a lawsuit. Some of them are mandated by the Federal Department of Agriculture, the Consumer Product Safety Commission or other regulatory agencies. Whatever the case, recalls are serious. It costs a company tremendous amounts of money to place a recall on a product, and it is an action they take primarily to mitigate the risk of a lawsuit. Recalls are an important fail safe for consumers, but they represent an intrinsic problem with the products we trust our health and safety to.

Once a product is on the market, it is almost impossible to get all of the products back from the consumer. Most recalls do not make the news, and it is not a common habit of consumers to check to see whether products in their homes have been recalled. It is not unusual for injuries from recalled products to continue to occur even after a recall has been announced. Product testing is expensive and incomplete, and some companies do not bother with it at all.

This is especially true for manufacturing plants based out of China, where we get the bulk of our consumer products. The trend of unsafe products flowing in from China is particularly troubling as it related to children’s products. Many Chinese-produced children’s toys have been found to contain lead and other harmful materials. Other products, like the Kolcraft strollers, are not tested properly for safety and released into the market anyway.

There are ways to keep our products safer, but it is almost impossible to regulate the production of goods in a foreign country. American companies and retailers should be taking responsibility for their products. Consumer safety testing cannot catch every problem, but using lax testing or not testing at all puts the public at risk and is unacceptable. Our pets, our children and our own health and safety are put second by every company that does not take the time to test its products before releasing them.

It is up to each consumer to demand thorough safety testing from the manufacturer and to only give their money to those companies willing to go through the rigors of safety testing. Everyday products are recalled for avoidable problems, and it’s time America did something about it.

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