Consumer Agency Is Severely Hamstrung and Underfunded, Unable to Properly Protect Consumers

Public Citizen Urges the CPSC to Document How Law’s Loopholes Hurt Consumers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is stymied and underfunded, which makes it difficult to carry out its mission to protect consumers from dangerous products, Remington A. Gregg, Public Citizen’s counsel for civil justice and consumer rights, told the agency today.

Gregg urged the commission to push for more funding. With jurisdiction over more than 15,000 consumer products, the CPSC’s shockingly low budget – $130 million – makes it difficult to effectively protect consumers.

In addition, Gregg urged the agency to do more to increase transparency regarding unsafe products. A little-known provision of the Consumer Product Safety Act gives manufacturers an effective veto over product safety information released by the CPSC, which has contributed to avoidable injuries and deaths.

For example, the agency’s typical workaround is to issue a vague statement, as it did regarding the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper. Instead of “naming names,” the agency simply issued a warning that “inclined sleep products” might be linked to infant deaths. It later emerged that the Rock ‘n Play and similar products have been linked to the deaths of 73 infants. Gregg urged the CPSC to document how the provision puts the public at risk.

“Only if the commission prioritizes consumer safety above all else – including above the interests of business and industry – can it truly fulfill its duty to advance product safety and protect the lives and health of Americans,” Gregg said.

Read Gregg’s full testimony here.