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Risk Management

by Peter Joseph

Pet food, children's toys, and other recent recalls

As most worried pet owners know, the past few weeks have seen a widespread recall of food for both cats and dogs. So far, pet owners have reported to PetConnection.com over 1,300 pet deaths that may have been caused by the "wet" food produced by one supplier and sold under 90 brand names.

Discussion has already begun about increased federal oversight of the pet food industry, and as the discussion continues it will be valuable to remember the example of another government organization that has already been protecting consumers. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has jurisdiction over more than 15,000 consumer products and issues a steady stream of press releases about fire safety and poison control as well as recall announcements via its email list to alert consumers to the dangerous products that constantly come on the market.

According to the CPSC's website, "Deaths, injuries and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $700 billion annually." A review of their roster of recalled products would suggest that danger awaits us at every turn. No parent can afford to not sign up to the email list. Not only should the anxious mother or father be aware of the ubiquitous recalls of children's toys for "choking hazards" or cheap jewelry contaminated with lead paint, but they should also know about the "Cooky Stationary Sets" that came complete with "pencil, various color markers, plastic scissors, erasers and the razor blade cutter."

Most of the recalls target products sold in dollar stores and produced in China. However, recently the esteemed children's toy manufacturer Fisher-Price was fined $975,000 for failing to report a choking/aspiration hazard in their "Little People Animal Sounds Farm" toy. It was not until receiving 33 complaints concerning a nail fastener that had come loose from the toy's barn stall door (including one case in which a child was taken to the hospital after inhaling it) did the company report the risk.

Parents aren't the only people who should be signing up for the recall list. Woe unto the electrician who missed the March recall of the Amprobe Digital Clamp Meters that "can fail to give an appropriate voltage reading, resulting in the operator believing the electrical power is off" or the aspiring musician practicing scales on a Casio keyboard that "can overheat when in use, posing a fire hazard."

The CPSC recently began its "Drive to 1 Million" campaign, an effort to sign up one million consumers at www.cpsc.gov for their email notification program. Their formal, bureaucratic emails may seem like another piece of junk mail but the possible benefits seem well worth the clutter. Though they may not be monitoring pet-related recalls (yet), you might never know whether or not your ceiling fan has been recalled for an "Injury Hazard from Falling Blades."

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Articles in this Issue

The Things We Make, by Mary Phillips-Sandy
The Sting and the Honey, by Edmund Eugene Mullins
Richard and Anna Wagner, by Douwe Draaisma
323 Prospect Place, by Josh Jackson
Letting Go: Highschool, by Jeff Steinbrink
Geography, by George Konrád
Literature, by Todd Zuniga
Risk Management, by Peter Joseph
March 2007


Peter Joseph is an editor for LOST.

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