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Manufacturers Lobby Says Small Children Also Defective

PARAMUS, N.J. ( — Citing "critical new research," the U.S. Toy Manufacturers Association today demanded that all toy recalls be suspended and replaced with an immediate recall of the nation's 13 million infants and toddlers.

Small Children Riddled with Design Problems

According to USTMA researchers, blaming toy-related hazards on flaws in product design or construction overlooks "equally egregious" defects in infant-toddler design.

"You look at how little kids are built, and it's outrageous," said USTMA executive director Wallace Cavanaugh. "Their airways are too small, their balance is atrocious, their heads are way too big, and their common sense is negligible. They are a cornucopia of reckless, irresponsible defects."

Cavanaugh said the USTMA will submit its findings to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the New England Journal of Medicine.

The USTMA estimates member companies lost $1 billion last year recalling more than 60 million product units, numbers which led consumer groups to quickly label the trade group's announcement "self-serving and greedy." Cavanaugh, however, insisted economics was only one factor in the new stance.

"Certainly, on a cost-retrieval basis, there are 47 million fewer infants and toddlers than there are recallable products, so the savings should be substantial," said Cavanaugh. "But we're also parents and aunts and uncles, and anything we can do to make families safer we will do."

Cavanaugh also asserted the recall should "in no way" be construed as an effort by toy makers to shirk responsibility for past and present hazards. "Absolutely, the toy manufacturers are partly to blame," he said. "We should have recognized this problem with infants and toddlers earlier."

Legally, the USTMA's recall plan must be approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. However, citing the "clear and present danger to the community," the USTMA began a pilot recall program yesterday in conjunction with several leading fast-food restaurants, who have agreed to exchange infants and toddlers for a free, medium-sized order of french fries.

"This is just sick," said Evelyn Hodesby of Columbus, Ohio, mother of twin 2-year-olds and one of many parents who expressed outrage over the infant-toddler recall. "I would never exchange my children for anything. And their notion that it's really the little kids who are 'defective' is reprehensible."

Hot Fries Safer than Infants

"Oh yeah, blame the messenger," responded Cavanaugh.

Not every parent, however, was upset with the manufacturers' trade group. Standing outside a McDonald's in Linden, N.J., Arlene Witchell said the program was more than fair.

"This is such a relief," said Witchell, who moments earlier entered the restaurant as the mother of four and left it as the mother of three after exchanging her one-year-old son, Rodney. "I always thought there was somethin' wrong with that kid. I useta think maybe it was my drinkin', you know? But now... mmm, these fries are good."


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