Manufacturer decides not to recall pram in Ireland and EU


THE NATIONAL Consumer Agency (NCA) has described as unacceptable the refusal of buggy manufacturer Maclaren to recall from Irish stockists a pushchair which has been known to cut off children’s fingertips.

The European Commission said last night it shared the concerns of Irish authorities about the level of protection that Maclaren was offering customers in Europe compared to those in the US.

US product safety authorities have told customers to stop using nine brands of Maclaren buggy immediately, but the company says its products are safe when opened or closed correctly.

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has recalled one million Maclaren buggies manufactured over the past decade until safety devices have been attached. This followed reports that 12 children had their fingertips cut off when they got caught in the hinges.

All Maclaren single and double umbrella pushchairs, including the popular Volo and Techno models, were voluntarily recalled by the firm in the US, which said it is providing customers and retailers with a kit to cover the “elbow joint” on the hinge mechanism.

However, the company said the measures would not apply to Europe, even though the products involved were the same.

A spokesman said its products fully complied with European safety legislation, and that if a buggy is folded or unfolded in line with instructions, the risk of injury was “non-existent”.

The company said there was a difference between the term “product recall” in the US and Europe. It said the term “recall” is used in the US for corrective action taken to modify products, as well as for times when products are returned and customers given a refund.

Maclaren has updated the operating instructions and placed a warning label on the buggy to ensure that customers take care and keep children away from the buggy when it is being folded or unfolded, he added.

“Our advice is that consumers should take the same level of caution and care as when opening or closing a car door or any other moving part that can be found in many other baby and toddler products.”

However, the NCA said children in Ireland and the EU deserved the same level of protection as in the US. “The NCA does not accept that differences in the regulatory systems in the EU and the US can justify a different response when the welfare of children is concerned.”

The agency said that when it first contacted Maclaren, it was told that none of the products recalled in the US were on sale in Ireland, but the company subsequently retracted this statement.

The European Commission’s consumer affairs division described the situation as confusing, and said it was seeking clarification from the company. While the British product safety authorities were satisfied, their counterparts in Ireland, Denmark and Italy had raised concerns, it said.

In addition, it appeared that customers in Italy and Canada were being supplied with the safety kit, even though they were not covered by the US recall, while those in other countries were not.

One incident similar to those reported in the US has occurred in the UK, but neither the NCA nor the European Commission were aware of any incidents.

A number of worried parents contacted Tony Kealy’s, a leading pram seller in Walkinstown, Dublin, yesterday, according to Paul Kealy. “In 40 years of business, we’ve never come across anything like this, even though the same sort of accident could happen with any kind of buggy with an umbrella folding mechanism.”

Mr Kealy suggested that people should be more concerned about the safety dangers posed by incorrectly fitted child car seats or baby walkers.

The recalled pram models in the US include the Volo, Triumph, Quest Sport, Quest Mod, Techno XT, Techno XLR, Twin Triumph, Twin Techno and Easy Traveller.

A direction requiring the withdrawal of a toy foam pistol from the €uro2 store, William Street, Limerick, was reaffirmed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday.

The product was found to contain lead in its grey foam material and some electrical insulation exceeding the permitted level. According to information provided by Euro General Retail Limited, approximately 4,000 items of the product were sold through €uro2 outlets.

The EPA said it was the first direction issued by it under the Restrictions of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) regulations.