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Consumer Product Safety Commission’s
Operation S.O.S. Hits the Mark

February 9, 2000

The Consumer Product Safety Commission bagged its first product recall credited to "Operation Recall," according to a report by Don Oldenburg, the "Consummate Consumer," in The Washington Post on Feb. 9.

The new "S.O.S" initiative was launched in December with the recall of a wooden toy that posed a choking hazard. "S.O.S" stands for "Safe Online Shopping."

Here’s how the operation works. Working from a "war room," CPSC Investigators surf commercial sites and news groups to find recalled, illegal, and potentially dangerous products that are being sold on the Internet.

These surfers actually buy, examine, and test products to make sure they comply with safety standards, Oldenburg reported. "CPSC’s watchdogs are sniffing out online problematic prescription drugs whose packaging isn’t child resistant, flammable children’s sleepwear, and potential strangulation hazards posed by mini-hammocks without spreader bars and children’s jackets with drawstrings."

Prometheus International Inc.’s recall this week of 4,000 novelty lighters is Operation S.O.S’s first unsafe lighter recall, he reports. The company’s "Intruder" model lighter, which looks like a miniature propane tank or scuba tank, and its "Jupiter" model, which is shaped like a gun, are manufactured without any child-resistant mechanisms required by law. For a free replacement, Oldenburg says that consumers should call Prometheus at 800-229-5233.

He quotes CPSC Chairman Ann Brown who says "Anybody who thinks they can do online what can’t do in actual stores has another think coming, because we’re coming after them."

Reviewed by Patricia B. Wood, Editor, Access America Online Magazine