Here we go again with the Made in China label. It seems like every time I turn on the TV nowadays, there is a Made in China product being recalled. Checking out our government sponsored website, www.recalls.gov , the latest recall lists Target distributed products from doll strollers, necklaces to children's tools and chair sets, having large amounts of lead violating our federal standards. Now, Target is my store of choice when it comes to purchasing toys for my children. Everything from my daughters board games to clothes, Target is my one stop shop, a God-send for busy mothers. However, given the quality of products coming out of the Target-only distribution, from toys to cribs, they are good for the value, but stamped with the Made in China label.
Now, I know that Target is not the only carrier of Chinese toy products; our whole marketplace is littered with Chinese made products. Toys R Us, Babies R Us, Costco and Wal-Mart - just to name a few - will all see discontented parents returning toys that their children have grown very fond of. Looking at everything that is going on with the recall issues, making choices of what to get and not to get is going to be very hard, now with the Christmas season at our heals. Today my 3 year old looked at the Sunday newspaper pull-out for Toys R Us and commenting "oh, I want Santa to bring me a Barbie doll!." How can I tell her that Santa is hesitant to give her that because his elves are using lead paint, and that it is a bad thing because your baby sister likes to grab things and put things in her mouth all the time and touching Barbie might get your sister sick. Hmmm. What to do...what to do...
Taking an inside look into this, I know our government is overwhelmed as is in putting all enforcements in place to prevent these problems. Working with the agencies as a Customs Broker, I have seen some of the problems that come out of our government at work. Customs is under staffed to fulfill their obligations to the public in securing our borders. FDA is understaffed to investigate all food and drug issues, imported and domestic. Looking abroad, trying to regulate issues with the Chinese government are going to be tough because we don't have permission to go in and inspect the conditions of the products coming to us. Essentially, all powers that be have tied hands to this issue.
Given all of this, parents can voice their opinion with purchasing power. With the power of the pocketbook, parents can change the behavoirs of businesses to concentrate efforts on better quality, healthier products, not just the bottom line of cheaper labor. I know that there are going to be some parents who want to buy USA made products for Christmas. It think it is going to be a tough sale to kids who have their hearts on that Barbie or model airplane for Christmas. But, with time, maybe that Barbie or model airplane would be more premium in the marketplace because the manufacturer took the time to see all the materials and labor were the best. Of course this would drive up prices, but it would be a good starting point help us all secure safety and priorities into our lives. Paying for quality, not just quanity of things. That is a thought going into Christmas this year :)