Recall set for 1 million cribs
Suffocation hazard cited on Chinese-made apparatus
By Ruth Mantell, MarketWatch
Last Update: 5:47 PM ET Sep 21, 2007Print E-mail Subscribe to RSS Disable Live Quotes
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission on Friday called for the voluntary recall of about 1 million Chinese-manufactured cribs following the death of two infants, officials said.
The Simplicity Inc. cribs were sold from January 1998 through May 2007 for $100 to $300. The crib's design allows consumers to install its so-called drop side (the crib panel that can be lowered) upside down, which can weaken the hardware and cause the drop side to detach. Infants can become trapped in the gap created when the drop side detaches, according to the CPSC.
Consumers should immediately check that their crib made by Simplicity, a family-owned business in Reading, Pa., has the drop side installed right side up
However, the commission also said that it is aware of two incidents that occurred when the drop side was correctly installed, and that problems with the crib were in the design and not in the manufacturing.
The deaths of a 9-month-old and a 6-month-old occurred in cribs with older-style hardware. In addition, the CPSC is investigating the death of a 1-year-old in a Simplicity crib with newer-style hardware. Friday's recall is the CPSC's second-largest crib recall, trailing a recall of 1.2 million units for Evenflo portable cribs in the 1990s.
Friday's cribs recall is not Simplicity's first. In June, about 40,000 Nursery-in-a-Box cribs, made in China, were recalled due to a drop-side issue. At that time, the CPSC said that the assembly instructions incorrectly told consumers how to attach the crib's drop side, and noted metal locking pins on the drop side that could pop off, presenting a choking hazard.
Scott Wolfson, a CPSC spokesman, said that the agency obtained additional information since June that led to the "need for us to work with the company" on the larger recall.
In December 2005, about 104,000 Simplicity-manufactured Aspen 3 in 1 Cribs -- also made in China -- were recalled because of a suffocation hazard from screws on the wooden-mattress support that could come loose and allow a portion of the mattress to fall. A child of 19 months suffocated last January after becoming trapped between the mattress and the footboard of the crib.
Is China at fault?
This recall is the latest in a string for items from China. Last year, two-thirds of all recalls by the CPSC, which regulates a wide variety of goods, were of imported products, and two-thirds of those recalled imports were from China.
As of mid-August, 95% -- or 38 out of 40 -- of CPSC toys recalled this year were made in China, according to report from the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada. That rate is up from 41% in 1997, when China made nine of the 22 toys recalled.
Yet some observers say China may not be to blame. Regarding the Simplicity crib recall, CPSC's Wolfson said that Chinese manufacturing was not the problem.
"This particular recall involved the design and the hardware, and not necessarily the location of the manufacturer," he commented.
Authors of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada report wrote that it's important to be aware of the difference between a design and manufacturing flaw.
Authors of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada report wrote that it's important to be aware of the difference between a design and manufacturing flaw. According to their research, more than half -- 26 out of 40 -- of the toys recalled in 2007 through mid-August were due to design flaws.
"Toy companies develop a design in their home country, and then send it to a manufacturer in China along with specifications," the report said. "If the design is poor, the toys manufactured will definitely be faulty. Only toy companies can prevent problems associated with designs."
Toys imported from China have caught the attention of lawmakers recently, due to a rash of products covered with lead paint. China's product-safety agency recently said that it would start work immediately on eliminating lead paint from toys shipped to the United States, though lawmakers here are concerned because China already was supposed to have a strict standard for lead paint on toys.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, on Friday decried "lapses in Chinese manufacturing" and talked about the threat to Americans.
"Flaws in Chinese-made products have now been found in everything from pet food and lead-based toys to formaldehyde-laced clothing and contaminated food," he said in a statement. "This latest recall of Chinese-made baby cribs shows serious and widespread weaknesses in the Chinese system of protecting consumers with the goods it produces."
However, Mattel Inc. (MAT:Mattel, Inc
MAT23.94, +0.38, +1.6%) appears to acknowledge the difference between manufacturer and design errors. Among other recalls, the El Segundo, Calif.-based toymaker recently has issued warnings about toys such as Barbie accessories for lead paint, as well as Polly Pocket play sets because of loose magnets.
"The magnet-related recalls were due to emerging issues concerning design, and this has nothing to do with whether the toys were manufactured in China," according to a company statement.
But when it comes to lead paint, Mattel has pointed some fingers. At a Senate panel hearing earlier this month, Robert Eckert, Mattel's chairman and chief executive, told lawmakers it appears that some of its vendors and subcontractors "deliberately avoided doing what they knew they were required to do" regarding lead paint. At that time, Eckert said that the company is investigating some suppliers, and already has terminated relationships with others.
Ruth Mantell is a MarketWatch reporter based in Washington.
NEWS from CPSC
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Office of Information and Public Affairs Washington, DC 20207
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 21, 2007
Simplicityís Recall Hotline: (888) 593-9274
CPSC Hotline: (800) 638-2772
CPSC Media Contact: (301) 504-7908
Simplicity Media Contact: (713) 301-0733
About 1 Million Simplicity Cribs Recalled Due To Failures Resulting in Infant Deaths
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is announcing today a voluntary recall with Simplicity Inc., of Reading, Pa., of about 1 million cribs. The drop-side can detach from the crib, which can create a dangerous gap and lead to the entrapment and suffocation of infants. CPSC is aware of two deaths in Simplicity manufactured cribs with older style hardware, including a 9-month-old child and a 6-month-old child, where the drop-side was installed upside down. CPSC is also aware of seven infant entrapments and 55 incidents in these cribs.
CPSC is also investigating the death of a 1-year-old child in a Simplicity crib with newer style hardware, in which the drop-side was installed upside down. CPSC is warning parents and caregivers to check all Simplicity cribs to make sure the drop-side is installed right side up.
The drop-side failures result from both the hardware and crib design, which allow consumers to unintentionally install the drop-side upside down. This, in turn, can weaken the hardware and cause the drop-side to detach from the crib. When the drop-side detaches, it creates a gap in which infants can become entrapped.
CPSC is also aware of two incidents that occurred when the drop-side was correctly installed with older style hardware, though the upside down installation greatly increases the risk of failure.
The recalled Simplicity crib models include: Aspen 3 in 1, Aspen 4 in 1, Nursery-in-a-Box, Crib N Changer Combo, Chelsea and Pooh 4 in 1. The recall also involves the following Simplicity cribs that used the Graco logo: Aspen 3 in 1, Ultra 3 in 1, Ultra 4 in1, Ultra 5 in 1, Whitney and the Trio.
The recalled cribs have one of the following model numbers, which can be found on the envelope attached to the mattress support and on the label attached to the headboard: 4600, 4605, 4705, 5000, 8000, 8324, 8800, 8740, 8910, 8994, 8050, 8750, 8760, and 8996.
The cribs, which were made in China, were sold in department stores, childrenís stores and mass merchandisers nationwide from January 1998 through May 2007 for between $100 and $300.
As an immediate precaution, consumers should check to see if the drop-side is installed right side up. To do this, check to see that the slightly rounded rail with the decorative groove is installed at the top and the plain rail is on the bottom. Next, consumers should make sure the drop-side is securely attached to the tracks in all four corners.
Close-up of a Correctly Installed Drop-side
Close-up of an Incorrectly Installed Drop-side
If the drop-side is installed upside down or not securely attached, consumers should stop using the crib immediately. Incorrect installation can cause permanent damage to the hardware and re-installing the drop-side using the same hardware is unsafe.
Consumers should check to see if their crib contains the recalled hardware. Recalled hardware has a flexible tab at the bottom of the lower tracks and the top of the lower tracks are open. Newer hardware, which is not subject to the recall, has the flexible tab located at the top of the lower track, and a permanent stop at the bottom.
Photo of Older Style Hardware
Photo of Newer Style Hardware
Consumers who have a crib with older style hardware can receive a free repair by immediately contacting Simplicity toll-free at (888) 593-9274 between 8:30 a.m. and 10 p.m. ET Monday through Thursday, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET on Friday, and between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET on Saturday, or by visiting the firmís Web site at www.simplicityforchildren.com
Consumers who have a crib with newer style hardware and have installed the drop-side upside down or have broken hardware, should also contact Simplicity immediately.
Consumer Action Guide
Style of Crib Hardware Consumer Response Older Hardware Recalled: Consumers should contact Simplicity immediately for a free repair. Newer Hardware Warning: Consumers should check cribís drop-side to ensure it is assembled right side up and inspect for broken hardware.
Consumers can also view a video clip (transcript) about this recall. This is in "streaming video" format.
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---Send the link for this page to a friend! The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from more than 15,000 types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. Deaths, injuries and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $700 billion annually. The CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard or can injure children. The CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products - such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters, and household chemicals - contributed significantly to the 30 percent decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 30 years.
To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury, call CPSC's hotline at (800) 638-2772 or CPSC's teletypewriter at (800) 638-8270, or visit CPSC's web site at www.cpsc.gov/talk.html. To join a CPSC email subscription list, please go to www.cpsc.gov/cpsclist.aspx. Consumers can obtain this release and recall information at CPSC's Web site at www.cpsc.gov.
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