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Unsafe Chinese Products?

Submitted by Anonymous on Apr 22nd, 2009

Over the past several years, big-name and high-profile companies have recalled products bearing the stamp "Made in China" due to defective, dangerous, and unsafe components. Chinese products represent approximately 60% of all products sold in the United States. Yet questions continue to arise regarding the inspection and safety of these products BEFORE reaching the consumer. A quick highlight of these major cases:

- In August 2007, Mattel, a major US-based children's toy company, underwent the largest toy recall in history due to violations of lead paint standards. More than 18 million toys were recalled and the Consumer Safety Products Commission; issued a strongly worded notice highlighting the dangers of lead for children.

- In early 2007, a US tire company by the name of Foreign Tire Sales, Inc. was forced to recall nearly 500,000 tires due to rubber and grip defects leading to tread separation. The Chinese-based manufacturing company denied responsibility for the defects.

- In mid-2007, revelations that popular pet food brands were contaminated with melanmine; hit the airwaves, sparking a recall of products. These food products were manufactured in China and were part of the larger melanmine debacle associated with Chinese milk and dairy prodcuts.

- In June 2007, the Federal Drug Administration issued a recall for Chinese-manufactured toothpastes. These products were found to have diethyene glycol (antifreeze), a dangerous chemical used to "sweeten" the product.

- In 2008, Chinese milk and dairy products were recalled due to contamination with an industrial product known as melanmine. Designed to "fake" nutrition tests, people of all ages died from ingesting these products.

- In late 2008, drywall products were recalled and class-action lawsuits filed in Florida due to possible toxic odors. These Chinese-manufactured products are heavy in a compound known as gypsum, known to cause respiratory problems.

So what can we do about unsafe, defective, and dangerous products?

Products liability is governed under a strict liability framework. Essentially, this is a showing that there was an injury and that the companies along the supply chain (usually the manufacturer, distributor, and local seller) not only had a duty to produce safe products, but also breached this duty to the general public. Yet with foreign manufacturers and distributors, this equation can get a little tricky. Product liability laws vary from country to country, and often place significant limitations on these types of lawsuits.

Fixing the problem won't come easily - but may result in extra vigilance for sellers and distributors on the part of product safety. We hear the same story time and again: "But the first manufacturing lots weren't affected and we thought it was safe!" Regular and continual safety checks are necessary to ensure suppliers and manufacturers, no matter where they are based, stay within appropriate safety guidelines set out by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

And if you're hurt by one of these products, ask our products liability lawyers what recourse you may have against the seller, distributor, manufacturer and supplier of the product. More than likely, you're not the only person hurt and the Rasansky Law Firm maintains a database of those hurt by specific products.

And to avoid being hurt by defective and unsafe products, check out CPSC's