InvestigateTV - Season 2; Episode 15

In this special episode, a look at InvestigateTV's 'Defective' series about product recalls, including a behind-the-scenes discussion with the team.
Published: Apr. 3, 2023 at 3:19 PM CDT
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InvestigateTV - This Week on InvestigateTV: While there is an entire government agency dedicated to the safety of consumers using various everyday products, consumers are often left in the dark until manufacturers decide the public should know. In this special edition of InvestigateTV, our team of journalists discusses how they investigated the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s role in informing the public about potentially dangerous products and how a law often prevents the agency from releasing information or issuing recalls without the consent of product makers. WHERE TO WATCH ICYMI – Watch last week’s episode.

More information and previous coverage from InvestigateTV about the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Consumer Product Safety Act:

How the law prevents the release of information. The deaths of babies in inclined sleepers exposed the influence that manufacturers have over the release of information about products. A grandmother took a stand after her grandson almost died in a Rock ‘n Play in 2014.

Why a commissioner says the CPSC was delayed in releasing a warning. In June 2022, the CPSC and Fisher-Price issued a safety warning for the Infant-to-Toddler and Newborn-to-Toddler rockers, stating that children should not sleep in the chairs. CPSC Commissioner Richard Trumka Jr. said the warning was delayed by negotiations with the company.

Why manufacturer reports of injuries and deaths don’t become public. When a product maker determines it may have an issue with a product that could cause injury or death, it must give that information to the CPSC by filing a Substantial Product Hazard report. However, what’s contained in those documents – details on injuries and deaths – is not immediately made public. And even after a recall, those details can remain hidden because the CPSC must contact the manufacturer which is then allowed to review and redact information.

Why a federal database of consumer complaints doesn’t paint a full picture of possible product issues. Consumers, emergency officials and any member of the public can file complaints with the CPSC about possible issues with products. However, the InvestigateTV team found that relying on that website would give the public an incomplete picture of what the CPSC may know through a manufacturer.

How to look up potentially dangerous products. Because there is no singular place to find all information about a product that people may have issues with, consumers should know there are a variety of tools they can use together to find more complaints, reports and reviews.