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CU’s plan to protect consumers from imports

Consumers Union
Nonprofit Publisher of
Consumer Reports
Consumer Federation of America
Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Consumer Groups Propose Eight-Step Plan to Protect Consumers from Hazardous Imports
Importers, Distributors, Retailers, Agencies Need to Be Held Accountable; Consumers Union to Testify before Senate Committee

For a complete copy of the testimony,
click here.
Washington, DC?Consumers Union and Consumer Federation of America will unveil an eight-step plan of action to protect consumers from the onslaught of hazardous imports. In testimony before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, the consumer groups urge more resources and tools be given the federal agencies charged with policing the safety of the nation?s products and food supply. They also called for putting in place mechanisms to help companies be more accountable for the products they import and sell in the United States.
?We believe the responsibility for safety has to be firmly attached to each link in the supply chain,? said Donald Mays, Senior Director of Product Safety and Technical Administration for Consumers Union, nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine. ?Producers, importers, distributors, and retailers, as well as the government agencies, have to own that responsibility.?
The consumer groups propose pre-shipment inspections and testing, creating a U.S.-based certification program for products and a traceability program for food, products, and all components and ingredients in order to hold producers, importers, distributors, and retailers, more accountable. The groups also endorse requiring importers to post bonds to ensure sufficient resources are available should a recall of a product be necessary.
The action plan includes giving all government watchdog agencies mandatory recall authority, the power to levy meaningful civil penalties and requiring safety investigations to be publicly disclosed.
Last year 467 products were recalled in the U.S.?a record-high level. The number of Chinese-made products recalled has doubled in the last five years and accounts for 60 percent of all the product recalls and 100 percent of the toy recalls this year.
?The recalls of imported products highlight inherent weaknesses of the federal health and safety agencies? ability to protect consumers from unsafe products,? said Rachel Weintraub, Director of Product Safety and Senior Counsel, Consumer Federation of America. ?Our proposed recommendations would help make all products safer no matter where they are made.?
?It is no coincidence as we import more and more food and consumer goods, we are recalling products at record-high levels,? said Mays. ?We need to stop unsafe products before they cross our borders rather than rely on after-the-fact recalls to remove them once they are here.?
Jennifer Fuson, DC 202-462-6262
Naomi Starkman, NY 917- 539-3924
Jack Gillis, CFA, 202-737-0766