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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Another Day, Another Recall

I was driving into work this morning and was informed by the radio news anchor that Mattel has issued a toy recall involving some 9 million pieces. This, of course, comes after Fisher-Price recalled 1.5 million toys and RC2 Corporation recalled another 1.5 million Thomas the Tank Engine characters because paint that was used in production was contaminated with lead.

This (as we all know) has shed an unflattering light upon the manufacturing practices in China. It hasn't just been toys that have caused alarm, but food and children's jewelery and toothpaste . . . We've all heard about it so there is no point in recapping everything. Let's just say that there is a BIG problem.

However, my reprimand isn't necessarily aimed at the government inspectors (or lack there of) because I think it's unreasonable to expect that EVERY product that comes into this country be inspected upon arrival before it reaches store shelves - at least not by some government agency. No, I feel that the onus here is on the corporations selling us the products.

You see, when I exchange my hard earned money for a product that I need or want, I in turn feel that the manufacturers of said product should be selling me a safe product. Why else would I buy it? (Especially for my children.) It's an unwritten contract of sorts - I pay you, you provide me with something that won't make me or my family ill. Sounds pretty simple, doesn't it?

Now things in China are exploding. They are experiencing an Industrial Revolution right now much like the one the U.S. experienced nearly 200 years ago. I think most of us reading this right now remember the horror stories from our history classes of child labor, industrial accidents that resulted in the loss of limbs, etc. Anyone read Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle?" I mean, the Industrial Revolution was about survival not quality control.

Which brings me to my point that since we all know what is happening in China, where are the representatives from these big corporations who choose to move overseas and manufacture their products there? Where are the company inspectors and production managers to oversee the actual making of these goods that they are selling to us? If you moved your business to a foreign country with different standards and regulations wouldn't you, as a business owner, want to know exactly what was happening on the production line? Wouldn't you want to make sure that the products being produced there were as good, if not better since you're saving money in production, as all the others carrying your company name and reputation?

I know I would. But then again big business isn't concerned with the actual product they put out, but are more focused on profit margins and seeing how little money they can spend on production to bring in more money for profit.

I think it's time for some good old-fashioned self regulation, so instead of boycotting China (which, no doubt, needs some help) why don't we start boycotting the companies themselves until they can prove to us that they're making their products safe? That in turn would help China improve its own quality and safety issues because the companies they're working for would insist upon a better, safer product.

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At 8/16/2007 07:52:00 PM, Blogger Alex Elliot said...

The recalls have just been crazy. There was a formula recall for Similac II in Canada.


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