Friday, October 1, 2010

Can We Say Epidemic, Now? The 24/7 Recall

In case you didn’t think the potential for beetle and beetle larvae in your powdered Similac was shocking enough, take the recent announcement by Fisher-Price: a recall of more than 11 million products for infants and toddlers, including high chairs and tricycles. Pegs on high chairs led to seven kids requiring stitches; ignition buttons on the tricycles, genital bleeding in six girls, according to an article on the Today Show's website.

Take this in context of a front page New York Times article, “Crackdown on Toy Safety Rules Proves No Fun for Toy Makers” (September 29, 2010), in which the protests of toy makers are given center stage as The Consumer Product Safety Commission haggles over the definition of “children’s product”, a task they were charged with as part of The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008.

Where, I wonder, is the story about the parents, outraged by this epidemic? Given the magnitude, it would make sense for us to be staging rallies and boycotting. Instead, we are overwhelmed and weary. In an effort to raise kids who are not paranoid or fearful that everything they eat and play with is contaminated or designed with a deadly or hazardous flaw, we keep going, and buying, and longer surprised that what we bought, or ate, or thought about buying, was, in fact, pretty much junk.

Or worse.

We are trapped, I’d argue, in a 24/7 world of defective products and recalls. How would a mother extricate herself and her family? Where is the window of opportunity, the energizing faith that there’s another way? It’s not only about more regulation. It’s about a new movement. If “green” and “eco” were the buzzwords of last year, then “we make this product as if our own kids’ lives were at stake” is the promise I’d like to hear. As it stands, we’re the only ones asked to put that kind of collateral on the line.

Twenty-Four, Seven:

The crib, from which you take your child out in the morning, could have been one of 2 million recalled in June largely because the drop-side rails lead to suffocation and strangulation. The eggs you make for breakfast, part of the 228 million sold under a dozen store names, recalled for possible salmonella. Even the apple juice poured into a stainless steel sippy cup, one of the more than twenty brands, some organic, that contain more than .5 micrograms of lead per serving, according to recent tests done by the Environmental Law Foundation in California.

If Grandma takes the kids to the library in a stroller, you can hope that it wasn’t one of the 1.5 million recalled in January, targeted because hinges near the canopy had injured toddlers’ fingers. As your little one sits on the floor flipping through books, you might assume the librarians have already removed the cloth dinosaur ones--the favorites with red plastic dots sewn into them that contained high levels of lead. And, hope his hand-me-down Timberland boots aren’t the ones recalled because the logo, too, had excessive levels of lead.

At lunch time, you’re grateful 380,000 pounds of deli meat, which may have contained Listeria, has already been pulled off the prepared deli shelves at Wal-Mart, but wonder how you missed the news in July that 90,000 pounds of the company’s “Great Value” chicken nuggets were recalled because some contained small bits of blue plastic.

As you’re putting your youngest down for a nap, you rock her gently, forgoing the sling used with the oldest, because it, along with about one million more, were recalled in March after three babies died.

Later at a friend’s house for a playdate, you wonder if the deck and swing set were made with pressure treated wood, the kind with arsenic, which leaches into the soil beneath. And, when the older kids go upstairs, you hope the other mom has already tossed the cheap jewelry, recalled in May, because it had cadmium.

Snacks would be great, but best to avoid the packaged pears and peaches with lead, and opt for something safer, like peanut butter and crackers. As long as the peanut butter doesn’t have Salmonella, like it did last year.

As you walk home, your oldest talks about ideas for Halloween costumes. All sound good, but you’ll have to think about what face paint to buy, considering last year a popular brand caused an outbreak of rashes because it was spoiled by yeast and mold.

Before dinner, you feed the dog, remembering as you scoop the kibble that contaminated pet food had been identified as the cause of dozens of cases of Salmonella in toddlers. Remember to wash the dog bowl. And, everyone’s hands.

Finally, as you get the kids ready for bed, you notice your toddler is teething. So you go to the medicine cabinet and reach for...... generic Acetaminophen.

Infant Tylenol, after all, may have had metal parts in it. Or was it bacteria?

Actually, it was it both.

Chicken nuggets:
Swing Set:
Apple Juice:


Liz said...

I wish there was a like button for this post. It's exhausting trying to keep with it all.

The Willow Store said...

Well said!