Those harmed by unsafe products speak out

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You deserve safe, healthy food. Help us label GMOs and get antibiotics out of food animals.

By Consumers Union on Monday, February 25th, 2008


One night, he and his wife Carolyn heard screams from their 14-month old daughter, Abigail’s, room. Her crib had partially collapsed. Andrew contacted the manufacturer—they told him it was an isolated incident. He reported the incident to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and 48 days later the crib was recalled after 85 reported incidents.

Shelby Esses’ son fell into a coma after ingesting Aqua Dots. While he was comatose, Shelby asked her family to scour store shelves searching for the ingredients in Aqua Dots. She also asked the manufacturer for the ingredients list, informing them of her son’s illness. As the company did their own research, Shelby’s hospital found that the ingredients metabolized into a chemical similar to the date rape drug, and a few days later the product was recalled. Thankfully, her son recovered completely.

Colton Burkhart, who swallowed a lead medallion from a vending machine, continues to struggle with the effects of lead poisoning. His experience resulted in the largest recall in U.S. history – 150 million vending machine trinkets. Even after chelation therapy and constant supervision, his lead levels are still high and if he breaks a bone or has a growth spurt his lead levels will rise.

Tate Leisy told his son’s harrowing ordeal after swallowing magnets from their Magnetix toy. Tate did not know the magnets had fallen out from the toy and watched his son, Tegan, suffer in the hospital for several days. Tegan needed emergency surgery. Doctors found 11 holes in his stomach along with 6-8 magnets. They removed 6 inches of his intestines.

Lavina Bowman’s son, Devlin, suffered a similar experience. Devlin swallowed magnets from his sister’s Polly Pockets dolls. Suddenly screaming in pain, they rushed him to the hospital, where he was sent by ambulance to another hospital over 180 miles away for emergency surgery.

The powerful little magnets in so many children’s toys are very, very dangerous. Millions of toys were ultimately recalled before Christmas because the magnets fell out and could be picked up and swallowed by toddlers. More toys have been recalled after the holidays for lead and other hazards. Unfortunately, most recalled products are never returned to the manufacturer and remain in circulation. That’s why recalls are not enough. Products should be safe for kids before they get to our store shelves.

After telling their stories to the press and others who gathered to listen, each family visited with the Senate offices from each of their states, sometimes meeting personally with their Senator. Legislation to significantly improve product safety (S. 2045) is now in the Senate, and will soon get a vote. These families made a huge contribution, and we hope to be celebrating a victory for safety very soon.

Joining Consumers Union at the event were bill sponsor Senator Pryor and our partners in support of this legislation, Consumer Federation of America, Kids in Danger, Union of Concerned Scientists, U.S. Public Interest Research Group and Public Citizen.

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