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Letter to House Oversight Committee on Fisher-Price and the U.S. product safety system

Consumer Reports, the independent, non-profit, and nonpartisan organization, writes regarding the June 7, 2021, hearing of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform on “Fisher-Price’s Rock ‘n Play Sleeper and Failures in Infant Product Safety.” We greatly appreciate your attention to these important topics.

The subject of safe infant sleep is at the forefront right now. Earlier this week, more than two years after 4.7 million Rock ‘n Play Sleepers were recalled, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted to approve a final rule to require all currently unregulated infant products intended or marketed for sleep to meet strong safety standards.

Unfortunately, this rule has not yet taken effect, and the crisis of unsafe infant sleep products is ongoing. The fact that nearly 100 infant deaths are linked to the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play and other inclined sleepers, and at least 23 deaths are tied to unregulated flat sleep products, such as in-bed sleepers, demonstrates the serious hazards associated with infant sleep products that are not required to comply with a CPSC standard, and exposes severe flaws in the country’s product safety system.

Consumer Reports’ ongoing, multi-year investigation into the safety of infant sleep products revealed, in April 2019, that dozens of previously undisclosed infant deaths were linked to inclined sleepers. In November 2019, as the evidence mounted of serious hazards associated with infant inclined sleepers, Consumer Reports President and CEO Marta Tellado sent a letter to Ynon Kreiz, the Chairman and CEO of Fisher-Price’s parent company, Mattel, urging the company to stop selling all inclined products that are for sleep—including those marketed for “napping,” “resting,” or “snoozing,” as well as those that imply they are safe for some kinds of sleep but not “unsupervised,” “prolonged,” or “overnight” sleep—and to immediately “recall all remaining infant sleepers with inclined back surfaces.”

In the company’s response a week later, Chuck Scothon, senior vice president and general manager of Fisher-Price, declined to recall the company’s remaining infant products marketed for infant sleep, including the 4-in-1 Rock ‘n Glide Soother, stating that it “has not been marketed for overnight sleep” (emphasis added). On June 4, 2021, today, Fisher-Price finally recalled the Rock ‘n Glide Soother after it was connected to at least four infant deaths that occurred between April 2019 and February 2020. Both Mr. Kreiz and Mr. Scothon are, of course, testifying before the Committee on Monday.

From April 2019 to today, the events surrounding Fisher-Price and manufacturers of other unregulated infant sleep products highlight the need for Congress to consider key ways to strengthen the CPSC’s ability to keep hazardous products out of the marketplace. The following is a non-exhaustive list of reforms that, if implemented, would better equip the agency to protect the public:

  • Repeal Section 6(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA).
  • Embolden the CPSC to hold companies accountable for safety.
  • Give the CPSC general Administrative Procedure Act (APA) rulemaking authority.
  • Increase the CPSC’s budget to at least double current funding levels.

Thank you for your consideration, and for your examination of infant sleep safety and the overall state of our product safety system and the CPSC. We look forward to working together with you and all members of Congress to create a safer marketplace for consumers.

For the full letter, click here.