(NEW YORK) — The head of the government agency that oversees recalls is making an urgent plea when it comes to getting a recalled baby product off the market.
Alexander Hoehn-Saric, chair of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, sent letters Wednesday to Meta, the parent company of Facebook, and Mattel, the maker of the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play sleeper, calling on the companies to do more to make sure the sleeper, recalled since 2019, is not used by consumers.
In the letters, Hoehn-Saric said his agency has found that hundreds of recalled Rock ‘n Play sleepers are sold every month on Facebook Marketplace and other secondhand sites.
The CPSC issued an initial recall of Rock ‘n Play sleepers in 2019 after 30 children were reported to have died after they were placed in a sleeper and “rolled from their back to their stomach or side while unrestrained, or under other circumstances,” according to the agency.
The recall applied to approximately 4.7 million sleeper products, many of which were sold between 2009 and 2019 at major retailers such as Target and Walmart and online on e-commerce sites like Amazon.
Hoehn-Saric noted in his letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg that the majority of secondhand listings for Rock ‘n Play sleepers are found on Facebook Marketplace.
“While CPSC staff informs me that Facebook Marketplace is responsive and moves quickly to remove listings that CPSC flags for Meta, CPSC should not be finding many illegal offers of life-threatening products on your platform,” Hoehn-Saric wrote. “Moreover, at best, CPSC is catching these unlawful products after they have been listed for sale and made available to the public; we do not know how many illegal sales occurred that we did not identify.”
He continued, “Facebook is uniquely positioned to identify recalled and violative products like the Rock ‘n Play and stop their sale before they are listed. This would guarantee that these dangerous products are not sold, and further tragedies are averted.”
In the letter to Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz , Hoehn-Saric called on the company to reannounce the recall and offer consumers more of an incentive to stop using the sleepers.
“Fisher Price clearly has not done enough to incentivize consumers to act upon the recall. Nor have the company’s actions deterred a secondary market for this product,” Hoehn-Saric wrote. “It is incumbent on Fisher Price to motivate consumers to stop using the Rock ‘n Play and to destroy unused Rock ‘n Plays that may be in their homes. A refund of the full purchase price of all Rock ‘n Plays would be a good start in achieving these outcomes.”
In January, the CPSC re-announced the recall of the Rock ‘n Play sleeper, noting that at least eight additional infant deaths had been associated with the product following the original 2019 recall.
The CPSC also confirmed at the time that at least 70 more infant deaths had been reported in connection to the sleeper, bringing the total to over 100.
In January, the CPSC instructed consumers to “stop using the Rock ‘n Play immediately and contact Fisher-Price for a refund or voucher.” The agency also noted in the reannouncement of the recall, “It is illegal to sell or distribute the recalled sleepers.”
In response to the letter from Hoehn-Saric, a spokesperson for Fisher-Price told ABC News the company “has worked diligently” to remove recalled sleepers from the market.
“Following the April 12, 2019 voluntary recall, Fisher-Price immediately stopped sales of Rock ‘n Play Sleepers,” the spokeperson said in a statement. “Since then, the company has worked diligently to remove all recalled product from the market, highlighted most recently by a widespread re-announcement of the original product recall, made jointly with the CPSC on January 9, 2023.”
The Fisher-Price spokesperson also noted the company is considering increasing the refund amount for consumers.
“We have recently made clear to the CPSC our willingness to increase the proportional cash refund available to consumers who participate in the recall,” the spokesperson said. “Fisher-Price and CPSC share a common goal: to remove this recalled product from the market. We look forward to collaborating with the CPSC to explore ways to promote participation in the recall. We urge both consumers and resellers that they should not use, sell, or donate the recalled Rock ‘n Play. If consumers have a recalled product, they should go to https://service.mattel.com/ to the ‘Recall and Safety Alert’ tab and follow the instructions on how to participate in the recall. We reaffirm our commitment to parents that we will always put their children’s safety first.”
A spokesperson for Meta told ABC News that selling recalled goods on Facebook Marketplace is a violation of the company’s policies. In addition, the company works on its own to remove recalled goods from Facebook Marketplace, and encourages consumers to report items that may violate the site’s policies, according to the spokesperson.
“Like other platforms where people can buy and sell goods, there are instances of people knowingly or unknowingly selling recalled goods on Marketplace,” the Meta spokesperson said in a statement. “We take this issue seriously and when we find listings that violate our rules, we remove them.”
Safe sleep guidelines from both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics say that caregivers should always place infants to sleep on their backs on a firm, flat surface without any pillows, blankets or bumpers, and that infants should not be placed on inclined products for sleep.
Last year, legislation known as the Safe Sleep for Babies Act went into effect, banning the manufacturing and sale of inclined sleepers for babies.
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