March 8, 2003
BETHESDA, Md. -- Federal regulators turned down a request Friday to require that children's products come with registration cards intended to help companies alert users when a product is found to be dangerous.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission voted 2-1 against the proposal by the Consumer Federation of America, with the panel's two Republicans voting against the idea. They said their agency's own efforts would do a better job ensuring more people are aware of product recalls.
"Recall effectiveness is a priority," said Hal Stratton, the agency's chairman.
He said the petition had a worthy goal, but more research is needed to learn whether consumers would use the cards.
A broad agency study on how to improve recall effectiveness is to be completed in 2004. The commission plans to host a forum on the issue May 15.
Between 50 and 60 percent of consumers respond to most recalls by returning a product or getting it repaired or replaced, agency spokesman Ken Giles said. The numbers do not include people who threw away defective items.
The Consumer Federation of America petitioned the safety agency in July 2001, asking for rules requiring that makers of children's products include a postage-free card with each product.
Under the proposal, consumers would put their contact information on the card and send it to the manufacturer. The company would keep the information for at least 20 years and notify consumers if the product was recalled.
The card would only be used to alert people about safety problems.