Archive for November, 2009

Stork Craft Crib Recalled

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Stork Craft Manufacturing has issued the largest crib recall in American history after reports of four infants suffocating due to hardware problems. It is estimated that 1.2 million of the cribs have been sold in the U.S. and almost 1 million in Canada since 1993. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced the recall Monday. This is Stork Craft’s second major recall this year after having recalled 500,000 cribs in January 2009 for metal bracket problems.

The CPSC announced that there have been four reports of infants being caught in the drop side detachment and suffocating to death. There have also been 110 reports of infants being injured from the crib. The problem lies with both the hardware, which can break or deform, and assembly problems.

The cribs were sold between January 1993 and October 2009 at such retail outlets as BJ’s Wholesale Club, Sears, Wal-Mart, and Target and Costco online for between $100 and $400. You can locate the manufacture date, model number, crib name, country of origin (Canada, China, or Indonesia), and firm’s name (Stork Craft Baby or Storkling) by looking on the assembly instruction sheet attached to the mattress support board. Some of the cribs have the Fisher-Price logo on the crib’s teething rail. Cribs without drop sides or those with metal rod drop-side hardware are not involved in the recall.

If you have a Stork Craft crib that has been purchased since 1993, you can contact Stork Craft at (877) 274-0277 or visit their web page (http://www.storkcraft.com) to receive a free repair kit.

Homelite Backpack Blowers Recalled

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Homelite Consumer Products Inc., of Anderson, S.C. has issued a voluntary recall of their Homelite Mighty Lite backpack blowers due to a fuel tank leak. This leak can pose a fire hazard for consumers. So far, Homelite has received 18 individual reports of leaking fuel tanks, one report in which a consumer suffered from minor skin irritation.

Approximately 85,000 of the red and black Homelite Mighty Lite backpack blowers have been recalled. The blowers were sold between September 2007 and October 2009 at retailers such as Home Depot stores and various retailers of refurbished products including Direct Tools Factory Outlets, CPO Homelite, Gardner, Tap Enterprises, Isla Supply and Heartland America stores. The retail price was from $90 to $140 each. The model numbers affected by the recall are:

Product Model Manufacturing Date Codes Range
UT08580 ATK1820001 through ATK3659999
UT08580A ATL1530001 through ATL3669999
ATM0010001 through ATM1749999

Product model and manufacturing date codes can be located on the blower’s data label. This label is located on the red plastic housing that is above the choke knob. If the product has a green dot on the outside of the package or the letters CA on the fuel tank, it is not a part of the recall.

If you have a recalled blower, please discontinue use and contact Homelite Consumer Product, Inc. for a free fuel tank replacement. The company may be contacted at (800) 242-4672 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday. You can also contact the company through their web site at http://www.homelite.com.

FDA to look into safety of caffeinated alcoholic beverages

Monday, November 16th, 2009

There’s been a trend lately with college students and the consumption of caffeinated alcoholic beverages.  According to a few studies on this topic, as many as 26% of college students use, or have used, this combination of caffeine and alcohol.  Now the Food and Drug Administration is stepping in to make sure the drinks aren’t causing harm to those who consume them.

On November 13, 2009, the FDA issued letters to manufacturers of caffeinated alcoholic products, letting them know that they are going to begin to look into the “safety and legality” of their products.  The increase in the popularity and use of thee products, along with reports of some potential safety hazards, are cited as reasons precipitating this step.

In order for these products to not be unlawful, one of the following conditions must be met:

  • Its use has been approved by FDA regulation
  • The substance is subject to a prior sanction
  • The substance is “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS).  In order for it to meet this criteria there must be evidence of its safety at the levels used, and a basis to conclude that the evidence is generally known and accepted by “qualified experts” on the subject.

As of the date of this blog entry, the FDA has not approved caffeine for use at any levels in alcoholic beverages.  So for a product to be on the market legally it can only be done so if there use is subject to a prior sanction, or their use is generally recognized as safe.

In the notice, the FDA has alerted the nearly 30 manufacturers of these products that they are considering whether or not caffeine can be lawfully added to alcoholic beverages.  The FDA requested that the manufactures provide evidence within a 30 day period of their theories as to why their product is lawfully being marketed (based on the criteria listed above), along with data and proof to support their theories.

The FDA has indicated that if it is determined the use of caffeine in a product is not GRAS or prior sanctioned, action will be taken to ensure the products are not allowed to be sold.

Chinese drywall lawsuits

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

During the recent home building boom, many contractors in the country found there was a shortage of drywall that was manufactured in the U.S. Prior to Hurricane Katrina, most drywall used in the U.S. was made here, but the demand for drywall increased after the storms and many contractors began using drywall from China. The Associated Press estimates that more than 500 million pounds of defective materials from China were used in houses post-Hurricane Katrina. Recently, there have been lawsuits filed by consumers, claiming that the Chinese drywall caused them health issues.

It is estimated that as many as 100,000 homes built between 2004 and 2008 used the Chinese drywall that may be defective and dangerous due to high levels of sulfur. These high levels of sulfur may release fumes that are not only making home owners ill, but also ruining their homes by causing corrosion of copper in wiring, fixtures, and appliances including televisions and computers.

Homeowners who believe they have been made sick by the drywall face a conundrum – they don’t want to stay in the houses, they can’t afford to walk away from them and they know the houses will be impossible to sell. Alice and Patrick Martin of Fort Myers, Fla. are worried about the financial strain the drywall has put on their family, but they are also concerned about the potential health hazards, especially for their 5 year old son Leo.

After the family filed a lawsuit, their lawyer Jerrold Parker spent time in their home going over their case and was reportedly sick for five days afterwards. The family is suing the Chinese manufacturer of the drywall, but for some of the homeowners it won’t be as easy. Some homes have drywall made by several Chinese companies.

Mary Ann Schultheis has suffered from burning eyes, sinus headaches, and a heaviness in her chest for a few years – every since she moved into her South Florida home. Her builder has since filed for bankruptcy. Some builders themselves have filed suit against the Chinese manufacturers, saying they were not aware the building materials were tainted.

Complaints from homeowners led to a Consumer Product Safety investigation as well as investigations by health departments in Virginia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Florida, and Washington. The Florida and Louisiana governors have asked the federal government for assistance. The Louisiana health department has received over 350 complaints from homeowners while the Florida health department has received at least 230 complaints.

At least one Chinese company, Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin has downplayed the potential health hazards but released a statement saying they plan to “get to the bottom of what is precisely going on.”

There is a bill before Congress titled “The Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act of 2009” that would require foreign manufacturers to agree to abide by U.S. law and thus be held accountable for any problems their products cause and have a company agent in at least one state where the company does business to accept any legal papers served to them.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that prolonged exposure to the compounds believed to be found in the drywall – hydrogen sulfide, sulfuric acid, sulfur dioxide, and carbon disulfide – can lead to breathing problems, chest pain, and possibly death.

If you are the owner of a home built between 2004 and 2008 and you are suffering from unexplainable illnesses such as respiratory problems, burning eyes, or headaches, contact your builder to find out what type of drywall was used in your home.

Belkin SurgeMaster Recalled

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

Belkin International Inc., of Compton, Calif. has issued a voluntary recall of its SurgeMaster Surge Protectors sold between September 2003 and December 2007. These surge protectors were recently recalled due to the fact that the molding of the plastic rotating plug could become cracked or detached, leading to a possible shock hazard. While no complaints, including reports of injuries, about the plug have been received from consumers, Belkin still feels the product should be recalled to prevent any potential damage.

SurgeMasters with the model number F9G930-10, F9G930v10, F9G930-10-W and F9G930-10-SN (all manufactured in 2003) are part of this recall. Models F9G930-10-GRY and F9G930fc10G-CL, which are grey in color, are not part of the recall. To locate the model number of the surge protector, look on the underside of the unit.

Approximately 68,700 of these surge protectors have been sold by both independent distributions throughout the nation as well as online at http://www.belkin.com. The cost of the items sold was approximately $50.

If you have one of these recalled SurgeMasters, please contact Belkin at 1-800-952-1465 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. PST Monday through Friday or visit the company’s web site at http://www.belkin.com/recall.