Common Law - The FindLaw Consumer Protection Law Blog

May 2010 Archives

Facebook Faces Growing Privacy Backlash

It all started in December, when Facebook privacy settings were changed and made public some data that users had previously set to private. These changes forced users to opt-out, not opt-in. Over the past six months, the backlash has increased to a level where federal regulators have begun looking into Facebook's privacy practices and questioning whether they could be illegal.

This week, Facebook added simplified privacy options, but they did little to quiet the anger of the growing anti-Facebook crowd.

"I don't think they really do respect the privacy of their users," said Deborah Pierce of PrivacyActivism.org.

That perceived lack of respect and a media uproar have led to the FTC considering stepping in. "The FTC is examining how social networks collect and share data as part of a project to develop a comprehensive framework governing privacy going forward. Our plan is to develop a framework that social networks and others will use to guide their data collection, use and sharing practices," said Cecelia Prewett, a spokeswoman for the FTC.

CNET recently interviewed Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt who offered a different take. "Either sites can never change their default settings -- no matter how much the user base or the world changes -- and that strikes me as crazy... or people aren't aware of the changes. And to that I'd say that our efforts to educate our users have been pretty unprecedented. We required more than 350 million users to go through a process that required them to check their privacy settings ... [Facebook doesn't] give personal information to advertisers--we don't sell it to anyone ... The early reaction to these changes from users around the world and the broad community of privacy advocates has been overwhelmingly positive."

But while all the controversy keeps writers, bloggers and commentators busy, you might be wondering what you can do to actually make use of the new Facebook settings. If you would like to change or increase your level of privacy, the wise folks at Lifehacker.com have put together a great how-to guide for the new Facebook settings. Or you can get it straight from the horse's mouth, at Facebook.com/privacy/explanation.php

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CPSC Recalls HP Batteries for Fire Hazard

On May 21, the CPSC in conjunction with Hewlett Packard announced a voluntary recall of the lithium-ion batteries used in Hewlett Packard and Compaq notebook computers. This recall of about 54,000 units is the second round of recalls on HP batteries used in the HP and Compaq computers. About 70,000 units were previously recalled in May, 2009.

The lithium-ion batteries are under recall because they can overheat and cause a fire and burn hazard to consumers. Since the May 2009 recall, HP has received 38 additional reports of batteries that overheated and ruptured, resulting in 11 instances of minor personal injury and 31 instances of minor property damage.

The recalled lithium-ion rechargeable batteries are used with several model series of HP and Compaq notebook computers. For a chart showing all notebook model numbers associated with batteries recalled to date, click here. The computer model number is located at the top of the service label on the bottom of the notebook computer. Please note that not all batteries matching the bar codes are being recalled.

The HP batteries and computers were sold at computer and electronics stores nationwide, HP.com and hpshopping.com from August 2007 through July 2008 for between $500 and $3,000. The battery packs were also sold separately for between $100 and $160.

Consumers should immediately remove the batteries from their notebook computer and contact HP to determine if their battery is included in this recall, even if the battery was previously checked. Consumers with recalled batteries will receive a free replacement battery.

After removing the recalled battery from their notebook computer, consumers may use the AC adapter to power the computer until a replacement battery arrives. HP recommends that only batteries obtained from HP or an HP authorized reseller be used with HP notebook PCs.

For additional information, consumers may visit the HP Battery Replacement Program website at http://www.hp.com/support/BatteryReplacement or call (888) 202-4320 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. CT Monday through Friday.

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As often reported on this blog, the CPSC has issued many recalls of drop side cribs in the recent months and years. In fact, it was reported that 7 million of these cribs have been recalled in the past five years alone. As many parents and caregivers now know, the movable side of these cribs can detach, creating a small space where an infant or toddler can become trapped and suffocate or strangle. At least 32 infants have died due to this type of accident with a drop side crib since 2000.

On May 23, the AP reports New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has announced that she will sponsor legislation banning the manufacture and sale of drop side cribs. The CPSC has already said it will announce a ban on these types of cribs, but any ban will not take effect until at least a few months into 2011. Senator Gillibrand says that more immediate action is necessary.

"There's a great urgency here. We have to make sure that no parent is unaware that drop side cribs could kill their children," Sen. Gillibrand said in an Associated Press interview.

The Senator plans to introduce the legislation this week to outlaw the manufacture, sale and resale of all drop side cribs and to ban them from day-care centers and hotels. Sen. Gillibrand would like to accelerate efforts for a ban, from Congress or the CPSC and to make sure all caregivers who might still be using the cribs are aware of the concerns about them.

The industry producing the cribs stands behind the safety of their product. Mike Dwyer, executive director of the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, which according to the AP represents more than 90 percent of the crib industry said, "We believe firmly that when these products are assembled and used properly, they are the safest place to put your child." Dwyer says the industry sees cases where the cribs are improperly assembled or re-used for an additional sibling with missing or damaged hardware. This creates the possibility that the drop side can separate from the crib causing the potential for suffocation or strangulation of the infant.

Last year, crib manufacturers voted to eliminate the drop side design and begin to manufacture only fixed-side cribs, but the move is a voluntary one. Additionally, even though many retailers such as Babies "R" Us have taken drop side cribs off their sales floors, it is hard to estimate how many may still be for sale informally at yard sales or from retailers online. For instance, the AP found drop sides for purchase on websites for Sears, Kmart and Amazon.com. Craigslist also had many used drop-side cribs for sale.

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Google Sued Over Street View Data Decking

Google has been sued in a class action case by two Oregon citizens for collecting their Wi-Fi data. The named members of the class, Vicki Van Valin and Neil Mertz, allege that when Google's Street View vehicles roamed their neighborhood, they captured data using a packet sniffer. Plaintiffs have requested that Google refrain from destroying any data that has been collected.

The data decking lawsuit alleges that the vehicles were equipped with a packet sniffer, which captured users' MAC addresses and various data including but not limited to emails, video, audio and documents. The lawsuit alleges that Google has violated federal wiretap laws, which would entitle class members to $100 per day for each day their data was captured, or $10,000 per violation for each plaintiff, if the plaintiffs were to succeed.

It seems that by way of its blog, Google may have admitted to behavior relating to some of the allegations:

...we have been mistakenly collecting samples of payload data from open (i.e., non-password-protected) Wi-Fi networks, even though we never used that data in any Google products ... we will typically have collected only fragments of payload data ... In addition, we did not collect information traveling over secure, password-protected Wi-Fi networks.

However, as the New York Times blog reports, this controversy is bigger than the admission:

Google is now saying ... that its previous claims were wrong ... the company has indeed been mistakenly collecting samples of payload data from non-password protected Wi-Fi networks in Europe, in the United States and other major regions around the world.

Time will tell whether Google's actions are held to have violated wire tap laws. The company may also face claims of violating privacy laws here and abroad. However, it must be remembered that in the US, violation privacy rights generally requires that the victim have a reasonable expectation of privacy. How reasonable it is to expect privacy in unencrypted Wi-Fi transmissions may be less clear than one would imagine.

Google wrapped up the blog post with an apology: “We are profoundly sorry for this error and are determined to learn all the lessons we can from our mistake.”

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The first settlement in the long running controversy and ensuing lawsuits over Chinese made drywall was reported on May 17. According to the law firm which represents it, Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co. has entered into a joint settlement with homebuilding company Beazer Homes USA, Inc. Details of the settlement will be made public later this week.

According to CBS News, Knauf is also in confidential settlement talks with as many as ten other homebuilding companies who used the drywall in their building projects and then had to pay owners for the damage to their homes that resulted.

CBS reports that to date, the CPSC has received 3,296 complaints from homeowners in 37 states plus the District of Columbia, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico who claim to have defective drywall in their homes. The drywall comes not only from Knauf, but was made by a variety of companies. The homeowner complaints claim that the drywall causes corrosion inside the homes affecting everything from the wiring on alarm systems, to plumbing, to appliances. Some homeowners have complained of health problems they say are also related to the defective drywall.

Knauf is facing about 200 federal lawsuits from U.S. homeowners and builders and two judgments have already been entered. In April, federal judge Eldon Fallon awarded a Louisiana couple $164,000 in damages, plus fees and costs, in their suit against Knauf. As discussed in a previous post, Judge Fallon also ruled against another drywall company, Taishan Gypsum Company, awarding over $2 million dollars to several Virginia homeowners.

According to their lawyers, Knauf would like to settle with individual homeowners as well as the builders. However, CBS News writes that the Knauf lawyers say the homeowners are represented by attorneys, making it difficult for Knauf to negotiate with them directly.

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BPA Study: It's Not Just for Bottles Anymore

A new BPA study has safety advocates clamoring for a greater look into the exposure to BPA through canned food. Bisphenol A, or BPA is a chemical used to make plastics. It has been found in baby bottles, water bottles, and other plastic containers. BPA is also used in the lining on the inside of metal cans, which gave rise to the recent study. The Senate may debate BPA in a food safety bill early next month.

As WebMD.com reported, BPA has come under intense scrutiny in recent years because beyond being a preservative, it mimics human hormones and is classified as an endocrine disruptor. BPA may pose a particular risk to infants. It is associated with birth risks in labratory animals. The recent BPA study found it in 92% of the cans tested, suggesting that BPA leaches from can linings.

However, the dangers of BPA are disputed by business groups in the grocery industry, who contend that BPA is safe. They contend that it has been used safely for over 30 years. According to the Washington Post, Scott Faber, vice president for federal affairs for the Grocery Manufactures Association, said that the Senate should let the FDA do it's job in regulating chemicals like BPA.

The FDA has investigated BPA and has stated concern about the health effects, including whether it is an endocrine disrupter, but has not moved to restrict BPA. "We trust the FDA to complete a safety assessment for BPA, and we don't think the Senate should short-circuit and undermine the FDA," Faber said.

Senator Dianne Feinstein disagrees. She is sponsoring the proposed bill, calling for banning BPA from food packaging. "I no longer eat food out of cans. I no longer buy cans, I look for jars....It's amazing to me that everybody doesn't jump quick to do this."

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Toy Dart Guns Recalled After Deaths

The CPSC has announced that 1.8 million toy dart guns have been recalled after two deaths from asphyxiation were reported. The dart guns were sold at Family Dollar Stores. Family Dollar Stores announced this recall in conjunction with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. According to the CPSC, Family Dollar is working cooperatively with CPSC to announce this recall because Henry Gordy International has refused to recall the toy dart gun sets.

The toy dart guns were made in China, imported by Henry Gordy International Inc., and were sold under the name "Auto Fire." They were sold exclusively at Family Dollar stores between 2005 and 2009, at a cost of around $1.50. 

The CPSC stated in a press release that the toy dart guns were sold with either an orange and yellow toy gun (item #P238), or a blue and yellow toy gun (item #9328), and eight orange darts and a small target with numbers from 1 to 20. The gun's item number is located on one side of the handle in raised lettering. The soft plastic darts measure just over one inch in length and have a small suction cup at one end with a diameter of about ½ inch. The target board is black, yellow, red and green, and measures five inches in diameter. "Gordy Toy" for "Ages 8+" is printed on the packaging.

The risk comes when a child places the toy in their mouth. They can accidentally inhale it into their throat where it can block their ability to breathe.

Consumers should immediately remove the toys from their children and throw them away. Alternatively, a refund is available at Family Dollar if the consumer returns the toy to the store. The CPSC would like to receive incident reports on this issue. 

Consumers can visit https://www.cpsc.gov/cgibin/incident.aspx to report an incident, or call CPSC's Hotline at (800) 638-2772.

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The FDA Asks Doctors to Look for "Bad Ads"

The FDA will begin asking doctors to watch out for "bad ads" or misleading advertisements as part of the agency's efforts to police the pharmaceutical industry's multi-billion-dollar advertising machine. The new effort, dubbed The Bad Ad Program, is a new plan designed to ensure integrity in the pharmaceutical industry.

Under the new plan, doctors will be asked report data on ads to the FDA. Drug companies are required to present a fair and balanced picture of a drug's benefits, risks, positives and negatives. Many people believe that pharmaceutical advertising fails to comply.

Currently, less than fifty FDA members review thousands of different materials from drug ads, including power point presentations, commercials, brochures and more. The materials are voluntarily submitted by the pharmaceutical industry.

Drug-makers spend billions, perhaps as much as $20 billion per year, to advertise and promote their product. Nearly one quarter of it goes to direct advertising to patients. Direct advertising, such as TV commercials telling patients to "ask their doctor if [a drug] is right for them," draws concern because many health advocates charge that direct advertising encourages patients to ask for drugs, which leads to over-prescribing of medications.

Under the new program, the FDA has a toll free phone number that doctors can use to anonymously report Bad Ads. The number is 877-RX-DDMAC. The e-mail address is badad@fda.gov.

Thomas Abrams, director of the FDA's drug advertising division, believes this is a significant step forward. "The Bad Ad Program will help health care providers recognize misleading prescription drug promotion and provide them with an easy way to report this activity to the agency."

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Did Toyota Delay Recall in 2005 over Steering Rods?

Newly released information shows that in 2005, Toyota may have delayed taking action in the United States for nearly a year after discovering certain vehicles were defective. Despite what may have been a delayed recall in the United States a year later, they issued recalls in Japan after receiving reports about defective steering rods. Several Americans also reported that the steering rods suddenly snapped.

The potential gap between the time of discovery of the defect and the time of recall in 2005 has led to an investigation by the National Traffic Safety Administration. The investigation may result in fines, such as the $16.4 million dollars Toyota was recently fined due to the investigation into faulty accelerators. Several million vehicles were effected by faulty floor mats and accelerator pedals that stick down, resulting in substantial danger.

Federal regulators "are taking this seriously and reviewing the facts to determine whether a timeliness investigation is warranted," NHTSA spokeswoman Karen Aldana told the AP in response to questions about the 2005 recall.

According to an AP investigation, NHTSA has now linked 16 crashes, three deaths and seven injuries to the steering rod defect. Loss of use of the steering rod creates immediate danger as the front wheels cannot turn.

Attorney John Kristensen argues that Toyota improperly delayed notification of the defect. He is suing on behalf of the family of Michael "Levi" Stewart who died in a 2007 Toyota vehicle accident.

They clearly had evidence. They clearly had problems in the U.S., Kristensen said. They've got to be held responsible for misleading the U.S. government about why they weren't doing a recall in the United States.

However, Toyota contents that they acted properly in the timing of their recall. Toyota said it had first seen the steering rod issue in Japanese models in October 2004. Toyota believed the steering rod issue was limited to Japan because of the "unique operating condition" of "frequent standing full-lock turns, such as for narrow parking spaces."

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood believes that Toyota is making progress. "With new assurances from Toyota about their efforts to improve safety, I hope for their cooperation in getting to the bottom of what happened," said LaHood.

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Claire's has recalled some of their children's metal charm bracelets. The "Best Friends" bracelet jewelry sets poses a health risk due to high levels of cadmium and have been recalled, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. On May 10, the CPSC announced a voluntary recall of all of the approximately 19,000 children's metal charm bracelets. Consumers should stop using the bracelets immediately.

As the Associated Press reports, "More recalls are in the works," U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission spokesman Scott Wolfson said. Recently, port inspectors have screened imports of jewelry for cadmium. Chinese jewelry containing cadmium was rejected and sent back.

Cadium is toxic if ingested by children and can cause serious health effects. No injuries have been reported so far. The bracelets which were made by Dae Yeon Industries Corporation in China, were sold at Claire's stores nationwide from February 2009 to January 2010 for around $12. Consumers should immediately take the recalled bracelets away from children and return the heart lock charms or the entire bracelet to any Claire's for a full refund or replacement product.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, call Claire's toll-free at (866) 859-9281 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or visit the firm's website at www.claires.com.

For the full text of the CPSC recall, please go to: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml10/10227.html.

CPSC is still interested in receiving incident or injury reports that are either directly related to this product recall or involve a different hazard with the same product. Consumers can contact the CPSC by visiting https://www.cpsc.gov/cgibin/incident.aspx or to report a dangerous product or a product-related injury, call CPSC's Hotline at (800) 638-2772 or CPSC's teletypewriter at (301) 595-7054.

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Freshway Foods of Sidney, Ohio, has recalled lettuce sold in 23 states and the District of Columbia after a federal investigation got underway, examining the possible connection of a Yuma, Arizona lettuce farm in an E. coli outbreak that has sickened as many as 29 people. Three people have life-threatening illnesses, after being diagnosed with hemolytic uremic syndrome.

Several college students at the University of Michigan, Ohio State and Daemen College have been affected by the E. coli outbreak. Most of the students became sick in April and have already recovered from the outbreak. It is unknown why college students were sickened. The FDA reports the lettuce was sold to wholesalers, food service outlets, in-store salad bars and delis. As Mary Clare Jalonick of the AP reports, New York state's Public Health Laboratory discovered the contamination in a bag of Freshway Foods shredded romaine lettuce on Wednesday, after local authorties had been investigation an outbreak for several weeks.

The recall applies to romaine lettuce with a "best if used by" date before or on May 12. There are no additional shipments coming from the farm under investigation because the winter lettuce season is already over. Yuma is the source for much of the nation's lettuce in the winter. However, once the winter season is over, farmers switch from lettuce from other crops.

E. coli, short for Escherichia coli, is a bacteria that causes severe cramps and diarrhea. It typically comes from eating undercooked ground beef, drinking contaminated water, drinking unpasteurized milk, or working with cattle. People who are infected with E. coli are highly contagious. The only treatment is to increase fluid intake and watch for complications. An infected person can become seriously dehydrated, in which case they will need to go to the emergency room to receive an IV.

The recalled lettuce was sold in the following states: Alabama, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

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As previously reported in this blog, the influential Consumer Reports delivered one more blow to troubled car maker Toyota on April 13 when they issued a 'don't buy warning' for the Toyota 2010 Lexus GX 460. Late last week, it was reported that CR has lifted the warning.

According to the Associated Press, Consumer Reports has retested the SUV and found the problem had been addressed. The original test by CR was performed to mimic a real life driving emergency which showed that the back of the Lexus slid sideways when testers suddenly lifted their feet off the gas pedal during a high-speed turn. This test would reflect the same kind of situation drivers would face if they were approaching a curved highway on-ramp and found the car moving to fast for the turn. CR testers felt the SUV's rear wheels could slide into a curb or off the pavement, raising the risk of rolling over.

The AP reports that under normal circumstances, the electronic stability control should quickly correct the loss of control and keep the SUV on its intended path. But with the GX 460 model, the stability control took too long to react, according to the CR engineers.

Toyota reacted swiftly to the review from Consumer Reports and recalled about 10,000 of the cars in the U.S. According to the Examiner.com, Boston, after duplicating the CR test, Lexus engineers developed a software upgrade that triggered quicker intervention of the stability control system. This was confirmed by Consumer Reports after the software upgrade was installed in its GX 460 test vehicle.

The problems with the 2010 Lexus come on the heels of the numerous recalls and lawsuits stemming from issues with sudden unintended acceleration in several Toyota vehicles, beginning last fall. In April, the carmaker agreed to a record $16.4 million fine from the U.S. government for a slow response to the acceleration problems. The government accused the company of hiding defects involving gas pedals, a contention Toyota still rejects.


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C&T International/Sorelle cribs have been recalled, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. On May 6, 2010, the CPSC announced a voluntary recall of the C&T International/Sorelle drop side cribs due to strangulation and suffocation hazards. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed.

The cribs' drop-side hardware can disengage from the tracks, causing the drop side to detach from the crib. When the drop-side partially detaches, it creates space between the drop side and the crib mattress where infants and toddlers can become entrapped. This can lead to strangulation and/or suffocation. Complete detachment of the drop sides can lead to falls from the crib. In addition, slats can detach from the sides of the cribs. Infants and toddlers can then become entrapped, strangle or fall out of the crib.

CPSC and C&T/Sorelle have received reports of 104 incidents of drop-side and slat detachments in their drop-side cribs. Six infants received bruises and abrasions from becoming entrapped or falling after the drop side collapsed.

The cribs were sold at children's product stores and other retailers nationwide from January 2000 through March 2010 for between $300 and $600. This recall involves C&T International, Sorelle and Golden Baby wood cribs. The model number and/or model name is printed on a label affixed to the footboard or headboard under the "caution statement."

CPSC urges parents and caregivers to immediately stop using the recalled cribs and find an alternative, safe sleeping environment for their baby. Consumers should contact C&T/Sorelle to receive a free replacement kit. For four of the older models of the cribs the Hampton, Jackie, Nina and Rita models -- the firm may be unable to supply a part to repair the crib and will, instead, provide consumers with a $100 voucher towards the purchase of another C&T product.

The recalled units include:

  • Alessandra; Model Number 180
  • Alex 3 in 1Model Number 910
  • Amelia; Model Number 185
  • Chelsea; Model Number 100
  • Federica; Model Number 170
  • Glenda/Toscana; Model Number 350
  • Hampton; Model Number 303
  • Jackie; Model Number 440
  • Jessica; Model Number 810
  • Lana; Model Number 240
  • Leonardo; Model Number 395
  • Marisa; Model Number 680
  • Martina; Model Number 135
  • Mirabella; Model Number 930
  • Nadia; Model Number 245
  • Natasha; Model Number 900
  • Nico; Model Number 630
  • Nina Pine; Model Number 710
  • Noelle; Model Number 999
  • Pagodina; Model Number 195
  • Rita; Model Number 490 - Manufactured between 2001 and October 2007
  • Rosa; Model Number 870
  • Rosemary; Model Number 925
  • Silver; Model Number 485

For additional information, contact C&T/Sorelle toll-free at (877)791-9398 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or visit the firms website at www.candtinternational.net.

The SPSC Recall Hotline is 800-638-2772. For more information on Crib Safety, visit CPSC's Crib Information Center.

Important Message from CPSC: CPSC reminds parents not to use any crib with missing, broken, or loose parts. Make sure to tighten hardware from time to time to keep the crib sturdy. When using a drop-side crib, parents should check to make sure the drop side or any other moving part operates smoothly. Always check all sides and corners of the crib for disengagement. Disengagements can create a gap and entrap a child. In addition, do not try to repair any side of the crib. Babies have died in cribs where repairs were attempted by caregivers.

For the full text of the CPSC recall, please go to: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml10/10222.html

If you would like to report an incident or injury with this product, go to: https://www.cpsc.gov/cgibin/incident.aspx.

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FDA: Tylenol Factory Conditions Unacceptable

Johnson & Johnson is under fire after a recent FDA report highlighted multiple serious concerns about the conditions at one of their drug factories.

The 17-page report released by the FDA slammed the conditions at a Johnson & Johnson factory that produced Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl and more over-the-counter drugs. The inspection noted serious lapses in security and quality control. The FDA is currently considering action, including the possibility of filing criminal charges.

Johnson & Johnson has suspended production at the Pennsylvania plant.

The FDA report, listed several problematic observations at the Johnson & Johnson McNeil PPC drug manufacturing division. Among the most troublesome:

The responsibilities and procedures applicable to the quality control unit are not fully followed.

There are no written procedures for production and process controls designed to assure (sic) that the drug products have the identity, strength, quality, and purity they purport or are represented to possess.

Procedures describing the handling of all written and oral complaints regarding a drug product are not followed.

Strict control is not exercised over labeling issued for use in drug product labeling operations.

Laboratory controls do not include the establishment of scientifically sound and appropriate test procedures designed to assure (sic) that components and drug products conform to appropriate standards of identity, strength, quality and purity.

Adequate lab facilities for testing and approval or rejection of components and drug products are not available to the quality control unit.

"We have no higher concern than providing parents with the highest quality products for their children," the company said in a statement Tuesday. "The quality issues that the FDA has observed, many of which we had recently identified in our own quality reviews and communicated to the FDA, are unacceptable to us."

Despite the recall, the FDA says that the potential dangers from the recalled drugs are remote.

However, as Parija Kavilanz of CNNMoney reports, the FDA said McNeil did not initiate "corrective and prevention action" after it had received 46 consumer complaints from June 2009 to April 2010, regarding foreign materials and black or dark specks in its drugs.

The specifics of the product recall are listed at the McNeil website.

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GM Recall Announced on Hummer and Corvette Vehicles

General Motors announced May 5 that it will be recalling 162,000 Hummer H3 sport utility vehicles. In addition, the company is also beginning a recall of 40,000 Chevrolet Corvettes. The Hummer vehicles are being recalled due to a defect with the hood. The Corvettes are under recall due to problems with the steering-column. Of course, these recalls occur during a time of great consumer concern over vehicle safety caused by the major difficulties and recalls facing Toyota.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Hummer recall covers specific vehicles from model year 2006, through 2010. The Hummer was discovered to have a defect on the hood of the car which can cause a piece of it to detach. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "If the vehicle is being driven when this occurs, it could strike a following vehicle and cause injury and/or property damage."

In March, GM also recalled 1.3 million Chevrolet Cobalts and Pontiac G5s with power-steering problems.

The Corvettes included in the recall are from the 2005 and 2006 model years. The steering-column defect can cause the unintended braking of the vehicle and possibly cause it to pull to the right or left, according to the NHTSA.

According to MainStreet.com, GM plans to contact vehicle owners individually and repairs will be made at local dealerships free of charge. NHSTA says the car company plans to correct the problems on the Hummer with adhesive.

The Hummer recall comes just before GM discontinues the no-longer popular Hummer brand after an unsuccessful hunt for a buyer.

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Nissan Recalls Some of Its Infiniti G35s

Add Infiniti to the list of automakers bit by the recent recall bug.

134,000 Infiniti G35 sedan and coupes have been recalled due to a potential problem with the airbags, which could prevent them from deploying in a crash. According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, up to 134,215 Infiniti G35s are affected. The sedans affected are from 2005-2006 and the coupes are from 2005-2007.

Both the sedan and coupe are the previous generations of G35s, the new generation is not included in the recall. According to Nissan spokesman Colin Price, no injuries or accidents have been reported. If the airbag ceases to function, a red warning light will be displayed on the dashboard, signaling that drivers should take their cars to an Infiniti dealer, Price said.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Nissan had not yet provided the agency with a plan to fix the vehicles. Price said Nissan would provide NHTSA with information on the repair in May and begin notifying owners of the recall in June.

The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act gives the Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration the authority to issue vehicle safety standards and to require manufacturers to recall vehicles with safety-related defects or that do not meet safety standards.

The Infiniti recall comes at a time when there has been increased attention on vehicle safety, after the massive Toyota recalls. Toyota recently announced a recall of millions of cars because of admitted accelerator pedal defects.

For more information, owners can call Infiniti at (800) 662-6200.

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Late on Friday, April 29, Johnson & Johnson and McNeil Consumer Healthcare announced a recall of several of their products, including liquid infant's and children's Tylenol, Motrin, Zyrtec, and Benadryl. A statement from FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg urged consumers to discontinue using the recalled products.

According to a report by Reuters, Hamburg's statement also said the potential for health problems to be caused by the recalled drugs is remote, however, "Americans deserve medications that are safe, effective and of the highest quality. We are investigating the products and facilities associated with this recall and will provide updates as we learn more," she said.

The recalled products were manufactured by McNeil Consumer Healthcare. The company has posted a full list of the affected products on its website which you can visit by clicking here.

According to the FDA press release, McNeil Consumer Health Care initiated the recall because some of the products may not meet required quality standards. Some of the products included in the recall may contain a higher concentration of active ingredient than specified; others contain inactive ingredients that may not meet internal testing requirements and others may contain tiny particles. The FDA is asking parents and caregivers to discontinue using these products. The generic versions of the products are not affected by the recall and are safe to use.

If a child has any adverse affects after using any of the recalled products, parents and caregivers can report the problems to FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program either online, by regular mail, or by fax. The FDA asks health care professionals and consumers to report any adverse reactions to the FDA’s MedWatch Program by fax at 1-800-FDA-0178; by mail at MedWatch, FDA, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20852-9787; or on the MedWatch website at: http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/ucm2005699.htm

Consumers with questions about the recall can contact the company at 1-800-222-6036 or visit the website at: http://www.mcneilproductrecall.com/.

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Simplicity Crib Recall: Strangulation Risk

Simplicity cribs have been recalled, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. On April 29, the CPSC announced the recall of all Simplicity full-size cribs with tubular metal mattress-support frames. This crib recall includes both fixed-side and drop-side cribs.

The Simplicity cribs pose a risk of serious injury or death due to entrapment, strangulation, suffocation and fall hazards to infants and toddlers. The crib's tubular metal mattress-support frame can bend or detach and cause part of the mattress to collapse, creating a space into which an infant or toddler can roll and become wedged, entrapped or fall out of the crib. CPSC staff urges parents and caregivers to stop using these cribs immediately and find an alternative, safe sleeping environment for their baby. Do not attempt to fix these cribs.

CPSC has received a report of a one-year-old child who suffocated when he became entrapped between the crib mattress and the crib frame in April, 2008. CPSC is aware of 13 additional incidents involving the recalled cribs collapsing due to the metal mattress- support frame bending or detaching, including one child entrapment that did not result in injury and one child who suffered minor cuts to his head when his mattress collapsed and he fell out of the crib.

Due to the fact that Simplicity and its successor, SFCA Inc., are no longer in business, CPSC has limited information about the number of cribs sold. All Simplicity drop-side cribs have previously been recalled for a hazard involving the drop side. Simplicity drop-side cribs could still be in use by parents or caregivers who are unaware of the recalls or by those who received a repair kit to immobilize the drop side from Simplicity when the firm was still in business. This recall involves all Simplicity cribs with tubular metal mattress-support frames regardless of model number.

The recalled units include:

All Simplicity Cribs with tubular metal mattress-support frames (regardless of model number). Some of the known model numbers include:

  • Aspen 4-in-1 Model # 8755
  • Chelsea Deluxe 4-in-1 Convertible Sleep System Model # 8324
  • Graco 4-in-1 Ultra Sleep System Model # 4600
  • Graco Aspen 3-in-1 Model # 8740
  • Simplicity Ellis Deluxe 4-in-1 Convertible Sleep System Model # 8676
  • Simplicity Nursery-in-a-Box Convertible Crib Model # 8910

The recalled cribs were sold at Walmart, Target, Babies R Us and other stores nationwide for between $150 and $300. Consumers should contact the store where the crib was purchased to receive a refund, replacement crib or store credit.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact the CPSC Recall Hotline at: (800) 638-2772.

For more information on Crib Safety, visit CPSC's Crib Information Center.

CPSC would like to remind parents not to use any crib with missing, broken or loose parts. Make sure to tighten hardware from time to time to keep the crib sturdy. When using a drop-side crib, parents should check to make sure the drop side or any other moving part operates smoothly. Always check all sides and corners of the crib for disengagement. In addition, do not try to repair any side of the crib with tape, wire, rope or by other means. Infants and toddlers have died in cribs with makeshift repairs.

For the full text of the CPSC recall, please go to: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml10/10211.html.

If you would like to report an incident or injury with this product, go to: https://www.cpsc.gov/cgibin/incident.aspx.

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Last week, the CPSC announced more drop side crib recalls, this time involving all Graco-branded drop side cribs made by LaJobi, about 217,000 units. The CPSC staff urges parents and caregivers to immediately stop using the recalled cribs and contact LaJobi to receive a free hardware retrofit kit. CPSC urges parents and caregivers to find an alternative, safe sleeping environment for their baby.

The drop side hardware can break or fail, allowing the drop side to detach from the crib. When the drop side detaches, a hazardous gap is created between the drop side and the crib mattress in which infants and toddlers can become wedged or entrapped, posing a risk of suffocation and strangulation. In addition, children can fall from the cribs when the drop side detaches or fails to lock.

CPSC and LaJobi have received a total of 99 reports of drop side incidents, including hardware breakage and drop side detachment. There were two incidents in which children became trapped in the gap created by the detached drop side. 

This Graco recall involves LaJobi-manufactured wood cribs. "LaJobi" and the crib model name are printed on a product sticker located on the stabilizer bar or bottom rail of the crib. Affected models are listed below.

Some of the known model names are:

Ashleigh Drop Side, Hampton Drop Side, Jason Convertible Drop Side, Kendal Drop Side, Lauren Drop Side, Rachel Convertible Drop Side, Sarah Drop Side, Shannon Drop Side, Tifton Drop Side

Some of the known model numbers are:

3280142, 3280154, 3280181, 3080136, 3290235, 3290254, 3290281, 3570170, 3570181, 3250235, 3250242, 3250247, 3250254, 3250281, 3250282, 3150281, 3150282, 3300236, 3300281, 3000135, 3000136, 3000142, 3000147, 3000154, 3000181, 3010136, 3010154,3010181, 3090136, 3270136

The recalled products were sold at children's product stores and other retailers nationwide from February 2007, to March 2010, for between $140 and $200.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact LaJobi toll-free at (888) 842-2215 anytime, or visit the firm's Web site at www.LaJobi.com. For more information on Crib Safety, visit CPSC's Crib Information Center.

The CPSC would like to remind parents and caregivers of important rules for safety when using a drop side crib. Do not use any crib with missing, broken, or loose parts. Make sure to tighten hardware from time to time to keep the crib sturdy. When using a drop side crib, parents should check to make sure the drop side or any other moving part operates smoothly. Any disengagement can create a gap and entrap a child. Do not try to repair any side of the crib, especially with tape, wire or rope.

For the full text of the CPSC recall, please go to: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml10/10212.html.

If you would like to report an incident or injury with this product, go to: https://www.cpsc.gov/cgibin/incident.aspx.

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Will Santa Clara County Ban Toys in Kid's Meals?

Which is better, a Chicken McNuggets Happy Meal or the toy inside?

Soon, any debate on that question will be a moot point in Santa Clara County, California. There, lawmakers have passed a bill that sets required nutritional standards for kids' meals. Restaurants, such as McDonalds are prohibited from giving away Happy Meal toys unless they are given with a meal that satisfies nutritional standards.

Depending upon who you ask, the law is either a long-overdue way to reduce childhood obesity, or another example of unwanted nanny-state interference.

Recently on CNN.com, a non-scientific poll was featured, asking: Should toys be banned from fast food kids' meals that are high in calories, fat, salt and sugar?

At the time of writing this post, 166,329 people had voted, with 53% of the voters choosing "No" and 47% choosing "Yes."

As Reuters reports, the opinions on the matter are as divided as the poll indicates.

"This ordinance levels the playing field....It helps parents make the choices they want for their children without toys and other freebies luring them toward food that fails to meet basic nutritional standards," said Ken Yeager, president of Santa Clara County's Board of Supervisors.

"Ultimately, parents decide what their children eat and whether a meal includes a toy or not -- that is the role of a parent," Jot Condie, president of the California Restaurant Association, told Reuters. "The county government does not need to serve as the parent of the parents," she continued.

The law will not go into effect until it undergoes a second reading on May 11. Restaurants will then have 90 days to make the necessary changes and an opportunity to propose alternatives.

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