The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has just worked out another penalty settlement with a toy company over those lead-tainted toys that graced shelves from 2005 to 2007. Reuters says RC2 will pay a $1.25 million civil penalty to resolve allegations that it “imported and sold Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway toys with paints and surface coatings that contained lead levels above legal limits.” About two years ago, RC2 settled a class-action lawsuit over the same toys. [More]
Looks like the CPSC can afford donuts tomorrow for their office: Target has agreed to pay $600,000 for selling toys with too much lead on them from May 2006 to August 2007, reports Reuters. The fine “resolves allegations” over the issue, so now Target can focus on what it does best, which is act crazy.
When the CPSIA—the toy safety law that requires independent lab tests on toys—was passed, a lot of smaller toy manufacturers complained that it was really a dirty trick by the big toy companies to increase overhead for the small ones. Now comes word that the government has secretly exempted Mattel from the law’s testing requirements—even though Mattel was responsible for 6 lead-tainted toy recalls in 2007.
China is itching to sell their processed chickens directly to the U.S. market, an idea that doesn’t exactly thrill our regulators or representatives. Congress banned the import of processed Chinese chickens in 2007, ruffling Beijing’s feathers to the point where they’re now considering a retaliatory ban on U.S. chickens. Since we’re in a recession and Congress doesn’t want domestic chicken exporters to lose over a half-billion dollars next year, they may let the Chinese chickens come here to roost.
As if it weren’t bad enough that poisonous Chinese drywall is blame for health problems, corroded electrical work, and general stench. Now the drywall may be to blame for two house fires in Florida. Who knew that Chinese industrial waste is a problematic ingredient for building materials?
The government thinks radioactive industrial waste from China is responsible for a recent sulfur stench that has plagued hundreds of Florida homes. Demand for Chinese drywall spiked during the housing boom, but federal regulators believe the drywall contained phosphogypsum, a banned waste byproduct that features prominently in Chinese construction. When used in drywall, the probable carcinogen can corrode “air conditioners, mirrors, electrical outlets and even jewelry.”
The Chinese poison train makes plenty of stops outside of the United States. When those stops are in developing countries, bad things can happen. Even worse things happen when dangerous products from China are intentionally mislabeled as being from another country. Say, India.
Reading the title of this post, you may think, “well, evidently this is some kind of special industrial flashlight. Or maybe an experimental nuclear flashlight. No one would be stupid enough to put a warning like that on a regular consumer flashlight.” You should know better.
Remember back when lead toys were all the rage? Oh, those dangerous days, when you couldn’t lick a Dora the Explorer doll without fear of memory loss! Well, Mattel and the Consumer Prouct Safety Commission (CPSC) have reached an agreement on how much Mattel should pay for importing toys that exceeded U.S. lead safety guidelines, and the amount is $2.3 million. Maybe now the CPSC can use some of that money to grease the DC wheels and get their new chair nominee confirmed.
The FDA is set to receive $3.2 billion next year but they don’t yet have a plan to make our food any safer. That doesn’t sit well with Congressional appropriator Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), who at a recent hearing told Acting FDA Commissioner Joshua Sharfstein: “A lot sounds to me like buzzwords from a past administration.”
National Journal has an interesting article about the intersection of free trade and globalization with increased food safety abroad and at home. Rather than reject shipments of Chinese fish for being raised in disgusting environments, the US should require trading partners to set and enforce their own strict food safety standards and use globalization as a way to promote better standards worldwide, instead of a race to the bottom.
President Obama this week declared war on the Chinese Poison Train, announcing that the FDA will receive $1 billion in new funds for modern testing labs and additional food safety inspectors. Inspecting less than 5% of our food processing plants is apparently a “hazard to public health, and “it is unacceptable.” So what’s really behind the new policy shift? No, it’s not those melamine murders or salmonella outbreaks. It’s seven-year-old first daughter Sasha Obama!
Large companies routinely rely on private audits to prove that their food is safe even though private auditors are dangerously incompetent, according to a New York Times investigation. The private auditor who inspected the Peanut Corporation of America plant responsible for unleashing the massive salmonella contamination was trained to audit bakeries and repeatedly gave the plant a “SUPERIOR” rating, partly because he “never thought that [salmonella] would survive in the peanut butter type environment.”
Twenty-two dairy companies sent out a text message to millions of Chinese consumers last week to apologize for selling tainted milk products. According to the BBC, it read, “We are deeply sorry for the harm caused to the children and the society. We sincerely apologise for that and we beg your forgiveness.”