Consumer Reports: Decades-old law hides dangerous products and impedes recalls

If deaths are linked to a potentially hazardous product and the government knows about it, you'd think that information would always be made public. But way too often, that doesn't happen.

The Federal Consumer Product Safety Commission is supposed to protect us from dangerous products, but Consumer Reports says there is a problem with the law that governs the CPSC. And it is calling for change.

Evan and Keenan Overton lost their five month old son, Ezra, just a few days before Christmas in 2017. They blame their son's death on the Fisher-Price Rock 'n Play sleeper, which Ezra slept in that night.

"His face was, planted into the back of the seat, like into the monkey's face, I guess, of the rocker. And his feet were straight, standing into the dip of the seat. And um, when I picked him up, he - he felt like a doll," said Keenan.

After investigating data collected by the CPSC, Consumer Reports uncovered more than a dozen additional deaths linked to the Rock 'n Play Sleeper and similar products made by Kids II, yet the identities of the companies were kept hidden from the public for years because of Section 6-B of the Consumer Product Safety Act.

"Section 6-B requires the CPSC, in most cases, to get permission from manufacturers before releasing their names or any information that could reveal their identities, even when products are linked with injuries or fatalities," said Rachel Rabkin Peachman, Consumer Reports Investigative Reporter.

In 2016, IKEA recalled millions of its dressers, but only after seven deaths and dozens of injuries dating back to 1989.

More recently, it took Britax owned BOB Gear, seven years to offer consumers a potential fix to their jogging strollers, which had been linked to at least 97 injuries to children and adults. The company still hasn't recalled the strollers.

"One of the critical next steps is for Congress to just simply eliminate this 6-B provision," said David Friedman, Consumer Reports VP, Advocacy.

"Everyone should know. If there's one baby that died in a product, you should know about that," said Keenan.

When Fisher-Price recalled its Rock 'n Play Sleeper, it said:

"With these actions, we want parents around the world to know that safety will always be a cornerstone of our mission..."

Kids II's has said the deaths linked ot its products were not a result of product malfunction or design.

Consumer Reports asked the CPSC what it plans to do with the inclined infant sleeper category. It says it is "reassessing the product class and hazards associated with it."

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