More power to import product safety

Amy Scott Nov 6, 2007


Scott Jagow: Perhaps Mattel should recall all of its toys and just start over. Today, the company issued its fifth recall since the beginning of August.
This is a batch of 150,000 toys made in Mexico — Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Kitchens.

At least a couple of kids have started choking on small pieces that fell off the kitchen. We also learned today that several Chinese toy makers are looking to sue Mattel for ruining their reputations. Mattel has called back more than 21 million Chinese-made toys.

This is something the Bush Administration plans to tackle — starting today, in fact. As we speak, the president is unveiling his plan to prevent unsafe products and food from coming into the country. More now from Amy Scott.

Amy Scott: The proposal would beef up the agencies charged with policing imports. Inspectors would be installed in foreign countries to certify products.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission would be able to impose penalties on companies that didn’t comply with recalls. And the Food and Drug Administration would have the power to order mandatory recalls.

Chris Waldrop with the Consumer Federation of America says currently, the FDA relies on industry cooperation:

Chris Waldrop: It’s a voluntary process, and they have to negotiate with the companies that are implicated in an outbreak or some sort of event like that. We’re hoping that the administration is recognizing the need to provide FDA with the authority to actually require a recall.

Congress has been working on its own fix. A Senate committee approved legislation last week to give the Consumer Product Safety Commission more teeth. The head of that commission, Nancy Nord, was expected to defend her performance before a House committee today.

In New York, I’m Amy Scott for Marketplace.

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