As recalls for children's products has increased, one group says more needs to be done and is taking aim at companies for not doing enough.
The recalls could be putting children at risk, some say.
The number of recalls increased last year, hitting the highest level since 2004, according to a report released Monday. Recalls of children's products increased by 12 percent in 2016, and the number of items recalled was the highest in a decade.
Chicago-based nonprofit safety group Kids in Danger said more needs to be done.
"Inactions of a few company's helped reverse the trend we had been seeing of fewer recalls as well as an increase in the incidents of injuries associated with them," said Nancy Cowles, of Kids in Danger.
Those inactions caused the group to give low grades to recall efforts, Cowles said. All regarding what it calls dangerous children's products.
"We saw a significant increase in the number of recalls and injuries from products just last year and that's after we had seen a pretty substantial decrease," said Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.
Kids in Danger's analysis of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's 2016 recalls showed there were nearly 67 million individual units of children's products recalled -- that's the largest number of units recalled since 2004.
And what's worse, they say, is that it took an average of 64 reported accidents before many products were recalled last year. Kids in Danger identified a handful of products that caused over 100 accident reports before they were finally recalled.
On Wednesday, CPSC Acting Chairman Ann Marie Buerkle issued a statement in response:
I sincerely thank Nancy Cowles and the staff at Kids In Danger (KID) for their commitment to child safety and improving the effectiveness of product recalls. CPSC takes the responsibility of removing dangerous products off store shelves and out of homes very seriously, and I am proud of the work our staff does. In this year's report, KID highlighted a number of positive developments. One of these is the increased use of social media to raise awareness of recalls. I am pleased to see this trend and look for it to continue. There is one aspect of the report that particularly concerns me. KID traditionally focuses only on those recalls that involve children's products. For that reason, its analysis can be greatly affected by how particular recalls are characterized. For example, this year's report includes recalls of clothing storage units as "children's products." This has the effect of including a very large 2016 recall even though many of those products may be in households without any children. We should always be looking for creative ways to make recalls more effective, whether they involve children's products or not. I am committed to working with KID and other stakeholders to discuss and advance ideas about the best ways to define and measure recall effectiveness, improve the recall process, and motivate consumers to take action when they are affected by a recall. Recall effectiveness is a longstanding challenge; to make enduring improvements will take an extended effort. The process should be a collaborative one between our agency, recalling companies, invested stakeholders, and consumers, because all of us share the common goal of getting unsafe products out of the stream of commerce and consumers' homes.
Critics said it took too long for Ikea's MALM dresser to finally be recalled by the company last year, despite public demonstrations of dressers tipping and being harmful to children.
"Shockingly, seven children died before Ikea finally recalled the MALM dresser," Madigan said.
Ikea did not immediately return ABC7 request for comment about complaints involving that dresser recall.
"A continuing frustration over the recall process is the reporting of the effectiveness of recalls. With the required recall effectiveness data report, only 37 percent of all the recalls last year and even those did not contain a full year of data. It's impossible to see how companies are doing in retrieving or reporting recalled products," said Cowles, of Kids in Danger.
Experts also said recalled products get peddled online. A 2014 ABC7 I-Team investigation found second-hand items sold online, including one product connected to reports of 61 injuries, like bruises and lacerations.
One seller, who didn't want to appear on camera, had insisted she didn't know about the recall and returned our money.
"I'll just throw it out if it's really the recall. I just feel so bad," the seller told ABC7.
Consumers can also use social media to share information about recalls of children's products.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission did not immediately return a request for comment.
CHILDRENS' PRODUCTS RECALL INFORMATION:
KIDS IN DANGER: For recalled children's products and sign-up for recall alerts: http://www.kidsindanger.org/
U.S. CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION RECALLS: www.Recalls.gov
ILLINOIS ATTORNEY GENERAL LISA MADIGAN'S RECALL HOTLINE: 888-414-7678
KIDS IN DANGER'S RECALL REPORT: http://www.kidsindanger.org/docs/research/KID_2017_Annual_Report_040317.pdf
IKEA'S MALM DRESSER RECALL: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/about_ikea/newsitem/062816-recall-chest-and-dressers
Safety group highlights recalls of children's products
ABC7 I-TEAM INVESTIGATION
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