InvestigateTV - Season 2; Episode 11

While there's an entire government agency dedicated to product safety, consumers are often left in the dark until manufacturers decide the public should know.
Published: Jan. 23, 2023 at 1:00 PM CST
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InvestigateTV - In this special edition of InvestigateTV – Defective – the team looks at shocking product recalls. Lee Zurik reveals companies, not the government, decide how and when these warnings are issued. In some cases, it takes companies years before they agree to pull products off the shelves. WHERE TO WATCH ICYMI – Watch last week’s episode.

Defective – Section 6B

The federal agency created to watchdog consumer products - from crock pots to xylophones - is muzzled by its governing law, which gives all the power to manufacturers, including those with dangerous toys, appliances and other items on the market. The Fisher-Price Rock N Play – an inclined sleep product that defied the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for safe infant sleeping – exposed all that it wrong with the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Defective - Recalls

It takes years for the Consumer Product Safety Commission to remove dangerous products from the market because of its cumbersome rule-making process and ineffective recalls that don’t incentivize consumers to return or destroy dangerous items. It took the agency nearly a decade to create a mandatory standard for window blinds while an uncounted number of children were strangled in cords. It has yet to finalize rules to prevent furniture tipovers, which kills and injures children annually.

Defective – Infant Deaths After the deaths of 13 children over the last 12 years, this summer, Fisher-Price and the Consumer Product Safety Commission warned parents not to let their children sleep in certain rockers the company has made since the 1990s. Now, InvestigateTV has discovered that during a 2020 Congressional hearing, the company dodged questions about whether it currently had products on the market linked to children’s deaths. We’ve uncovered reports filed about deaths in the rockers before that hearing – and spoke to a woman who reported her granddaughter’s death to CPSC and Fisher-Price a year prior. Plus – we dig into the company’s control over public messaging – including a CPSC commissioner’s claim that the commission was forced to delay warning the public about these rockers due to a gag rule that requires the company to give permission to warn.

Defective – Substantial Hazard

When a company learns a product it sells could be defective and dangerous, it has 24 hours to let the federal government’s Consumer Product Safety Commission know about it. But it could take months or years for the public to find out about the company’s possible concerns, if they even come to light at all. InvestigateTV has been battling CPSC and companies to disclose information about the products companies have sounded the alarm on – an alarm that remains relatively silent. Our team has discovered that an Ikea dresser remained on the market for two years after the company reported problems. A children’s climbing structure used at over 200 McDonald’s restaurants was tied to dozens of injuries and remained in place for five months after the manufacturer reported issues to the government. We sit down with a mother who says a delay in making the reports public may have contributed to her daughter’s death in an inclined sleeper – and one of CPSC’s commissioners responds to our questions about transparency and what the public has the right to know.