Tires, toothpaste and toy trains were among the latest defective and dangerous products found imported from China as concern continued to rise among U.S. consumers over the "Made in China" label.
Farm-raised seafood from China also was detained by U.S. authorities, various drugs were banned by Chinese officials and – in perhaps the most well-known recent product problem – tainted pet food ingredients were blamed for the deaths of cats and dogs.
Chinese products account for 60 percent of all recalls in the United States, with the number of those products being recalled doubling over the last five years. Of perhaps the greatest recent concern were hazardous toys – Mattel alone recalled some 19 million – and 450,000 defective radial tires made for light trucks.
The defective tires were sold through a New Jersey company, Foreign Tire Sales Inc., and were manufactured by Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber Co. Ltd. The tires were found to be made with a missing or insufficient gum strip which helps keep the belts of a tire bound together.
Some tested models had separations at the belt edges, a similar problem that led to the massive 2000 recall of Bridgestone and Firestone tires, which were blamed for accidents that caused 148 deaths. The Chinese tires distributed to various dealers in the United States were sold under at least four brand names - Westlake, Compass, Telluride and YKS.
On Aug. 14, 2007 Mattel announced the recall of 18.2 million toys – about half of which were sold in the United States – because some were covered with lead paint while others contained small, powerful magnets that could be swallowed by young children. The Chinese-made toys included 436,000 Sarge vehicles from the animated film “Cars.”
Two weeks earlier Mattel announced the recall of nearly one million Fisher-Price toys in the United States because of lead paint used by its Chinese manufacturer on 83 different products, including popular Sesame Street and Nickelodeon toys based on characters such as Elmo, Cookie Monster and Dora the Explorer.
Some of the products, sold by Mattel’s Fisher-Price unit, were stopped at distribution centers but many others had already been purchased by consumers. The CPSC advised that the toys be taken away from children immediately. (Click here to see a complete list of the recalled toys or go to www.cpsc.gov)
Another problem with a Chinese-made product in June 2007 involved the recall of 1.5 million Thomas & Friends toy trains because of possible lead paint contamination, which can cause brain damage if ingested.
Many other toys from China have been recalled for an array of other possible hazards, particularly choking on small parts. One report said that 100 percent of toys recalled in the United States through mid-2007 carried the Made in China label. (Click here for more on dangerous toys.)
Among other products found hazardous were Chinese ceramic heaters sold under the Lasko Products brand which posed a fire hazard. Chinese-made toothpaste, some shipped to various prisons and hospitals, was found to contain diethylene glycol, a chemical found in auto anti-freeze. And 10 types of drugs made in China were banned for what officials there said were exaggerated claims of effectiveness in treating high blood pressure, diabetes and other illnesses.
In another blow to Chinese products, U.S. authorities in late June banned imports of Chinese farm-raised fish, including shrimp, catfish, basa, dace and eel after they were found to contain chemicals not approved in the United States. Long-term use of some of the chemicals was considered potentially cancer-causing. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration acted to ban the seafood after it found problems with 15 percent of fish from China.
Earlier, in May 2007, the FDA stopped shipments of frozen crab meat because it was found to be filthy and tilapia fillets that were tainted by salmonella. China is the third-largest exporter of seafood to the United States.
Kline & Specter, PC, a Philadelphia law firm with expertise in product liability lawsuits is currently not litigating cases involving defective Chinese products.
Chinese Product News
- Tom Kline interviewed on Fox TV about hazardous product made in China (Click here to watch video)
- Shanin Specter talks about the Mattel toy recall on NBC 10 8/15/2007 (Click here to watch video)
- Mattel, the world’s largest toy company, yesterday announced the biggest recall in its history. (Full story)