RELEASE: PIRG Consumer Watchdog associate testifies about dangerous toys at Senate hearing on hidden holiday hazards

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Hannah Rhodes

Here’s what needs to be done to protect American consumers during the holidays, year-round


WASHINGTON — With the holiday season in full swing, the U.S. Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security held a hearing Tuesday focused on unsafe products consumers can encounter unwittingly during what should be a festive season. 

Members of the subcommittee and witnesses — including PIRG’s Consumer Watchdog Associate Hannah Rhodes, the author of the recently released, 36th annual Trouble in Toyland report — discussed everything from counterfeit toys and small dangerous metal objects to malfunctioning decorations that can cause fire hazards. 

“Unfortunately, the burden is on consumers to identify counterfeit, knockoff and mislabeled products — which can be difficult for those who are not familiar with lab testing certification, age warning labels and what the manufacturer’s brand logo looks like,” Rhodes says. 

PIRG supports the proposed INFORM Act to help prevent counterfeit and other dangerous items from ending up in Americans’ homes. PIRG also supports Reese’s Law and encourages the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to use the rulemaking process to require child-resistant closures on consumer products that use button cell and coin cell batteries. 

“We need to do everything in our power to protect children from items that may seem innocuous to us, but are choking hazards to them,” Rhodes says. “We know from our research that too often, online vendors sell products that shouldn’t be sold. They may have been recalled, or they are mislabeled or missing labels that could warn adults not to buy them. It is important that host sites monitor listings for dangerous products and remove them. And companies that recall products should promote any recall as much as they promote and market the product to begin with.”

Other witnesses at the Senate hearing included Trisha Hamsmith, founder of Reese’s Purpose, and members of the American Academy of Pediatrics and The Toy Association.