Defective Products

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Defective Products

China has gradually become the de facto  "manufacturing plant" for the world.  However, that role has led to recalls of dangerous and defective Chinese products in 2007 alone that boggle the mind.  Consider just a few: 

  • Cough medicine with dietheylene glycol that killed more than 100 people in Panama.
  • Space heaters that posed a fire hazard.
  • Oscillating fans that caught on fire.
  • Hair dryers that could electrocute users.
  • Remote controls that could overheat and burn people.
  • Children's toys and jewelry with lead in them.
  • Battery packs for toys that could catch fire.
  • Bicycles that could break and come apart while being ridden.
  • Pet food that contained poison that killed hundreds of pets in the U.S.
  • Hanukkah candles that could become engulfed in flames.
  • Deadly cribs, baby seats, recliners, hammocks, and kitchen stools that collapsed and injured people.
  • Baby clothes that were flammable.
  • Seafood that was tainted with drugs.
  • Toothpaste that contained toxic ingredients.
  • Tires for SUVs that caused traffic deaths.

And that's not an exhaustive list, even for that one year.

While the many Chinese manufacturers, like the maker of the SUV tires, denied that their products were defective, scores of recalls of Chinese products have severely damaged China's reputation in the international business community as well as among consumers.  Last summer, Congress passed a bill making the Consumer Product Safety Commission more effective at protecting consumers from imported products. 

In February 2008, federal prosecutors filed suit against both Chinese and American companies involved in the tainted pet food.  At the same time, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is sending its first Food and Drug Administration staff to China, India, and elsewhere to monitor the safety standards of consumer items shipped to the U.S.  Moreover, American companies, fearing lawsuits and damage to their brands, have moved swiftly to ratchet up their quality control and safety checks. 

But the difficulties of enforcing quality control in China were highlighted by the recent scandal involving tainted powdered milk used as baby formula.  As reported by The Wall Street Journal,1 Chinese authorities suspect that dealers diluted the milk to make a higher profit. 

Normally, tests for protein content would have revealed that the milk was diluted.  However, since those tests involve measuring nitrogen content, the companies added the chemical melamine, which contains nitrogen and thereby fooled the tests...

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