Highlighting the potential repercussions that come with failing to heed product safety regulations, Zulily is recalling hooded sweatshirts and jackets for children because they pose a choking hazard. The Seattle-based online retailer, which bills itself as a destination for "daily deals for moms, babies and kids," sold the Deezo brand hoodies from August 2012 through March 2013.
On May 16, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a recall of the outerwear because it has drawstrings through the hood, presenting a strangulation risk. While no choking incidents were reported, upper outerwear for children was barred from featuring drawstrings by a 2011 CPSC regulation. Made of polyester/cotton and featuring designs like flowers, motor scooters, aliens and a heart with arrow, the outerwear was not sold in the advertising specialty industry.
"Many manufacturers and importers who should know better still haven't gotten the message about the dangers of drawstrings to children," says Leeton Lee, vice president of regulatory compliance and general counsel at industry supplier E.T.S. Express (asi/51197). "It is extremely disappointing that big-name brands and retailers, after 20 years of reported incidents and recalls, continue to unknowingly design and make children's garments with dangerous drawstrings."
In 2010, Lee points out, there were 35 recalls in the U.S. and 450 in the European Union for children's outerwear with dangerous drawstrings or cords. "Over the years," says Lee, "well over a hundred serious safety incidents have been reported to the CPSC where children were entangled by drawstrings on playground equipment, car doors and school bus doors, resulting in numerous injuries and at least 25 deaths. Some of these children were strangled or were dragged by cars and busses."
Given the safety risks and potential for being caught up in a reputation-damaging recall or lawsuit, it's pivotal that suppliers and distributors educate their product sourcing and sales teams about the importance of avoiding children's products that have drawstrings. Says Lee: "Most end-buyer clients are not aware of many of the safety requirements for the products they buy from our industry, so it's really up to suppliers and distributors to help select and make the appropriate products that are safe for their end-users. We should all teach our staff and clients about the dangers to human health and safety, as well as to our businesses and industry."
According to the CPSC, consumers should immediately take the Deezo outerwear away from children. Consumers were instructed to remove the drawstrings to eliminate the hazard or return the garments to Zulily for a full refund. The outerwear was manufactured in China.