Consumers Union Applauds Product Safety Database Launching March 11

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March 9, 2011

Consumers Union Applauds Product Safety Database Launching March 11, Urges Congress to Support Database in New Ad

WASHINGTON – Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, today took out a newspaper ad to call on Congress to support the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) public product database set to launch this Friday, March 11th.

The Consumer Product Safety Information Database will allow consumers to report safety problems with specific products, from cribs to toaster ovens, and read complaints filed by other consumers. However, the House recently voted for a spending provision to erase funding for the database.

“Consumers have a right to know the safety record of the products they purchase,” said Ami Gadhia, Policy Counsel for Consumers Union. “This database will help Americans stay informed about the products they buy in order to keep themselves and their families safe. It is a great tool for consumers and it has the necessary safeguards to keep incorrect information out.”

The CPSC database contains an array of protections to ensure that inaccurate information does not get published. Anonymous complaints will not be permitted, and only safety-related information will be allowed. Complaints will not be considered for publication unless 8 specific minimum fields are filled out. Businesses will be able to see every report of harm before it is placed in the database, and have the opportunity to correct inaccurate information and to provide their own comments at any time. These protections are in place to provide transparency for consumers, while also providing protections for manufacturers. The database will also help the CPSC to more efficiently and more quickly identify patterns in safety problems that the public has experienced.

In light of current attempts by some lawmakers in the budget process to defund the initiative — before it even begins — CU cautioned lawmakers on playing politics with children’s safety in a full page advertisement in today’s Politico. The ad features a child’s crib and poses the question, “Will this crib leave parents sleepless?” Fortunately, with the CPSC database parents would have a resource to turn to in order to check if others have had safety concerns.

To view the advertisement, please click here.

“Rather than adding to the transparency in the marketplace, the provision to defund the CPSC’s database in the Continuing Resolution only works to keep American families in the dark. The Database can help prevent injuries and fatalities that could result because unsuspecting consumers were not alerted to the risk,” said Gadhia.

A February 2011 Consumers Union national poll found an overwhelming majority of respondents – 82 percent – were interested in the ability to access a database maintained by the government where you can report and search safety problems.

To preview the database and how it works, please click here.

David Butler, 202-462-6262