The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that Hamilton Beach/Proctor-Silex Inc., (HB/PS) of Glen Allen, Va., has agreed to pay a $1.2 million civil penalty. The penalty, which has been provisionally accepted by the Commission, settles allegations that the company failed to report to CPSC in a timely manner defects with three separate products: countertop toasters, juice extractors, and slow cookers. Under federal law, manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers must immediately report information about potentially hazardous products to the Commission.
"Companies who report late to CPSC about incidents or injuries involving their products prevent us from taking action to protect consumers from harm," stated CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton. "CPSC will not hesitate to enforce the law against those companies who do not report critical safety information in a timely way, but our goal is to have companies work cooperatively with us to keep consumers safe."
In agreeing to settle this matter, HB/PS denies that it violated the Consumer Product Safety Act by failing to report its countertop toasters, juice extractors, and slow cookers in a timely manner. HB/PS says it continues to improve its methods for satisfying all CPSC reporting requirements.
CPSC alleged that certain models of HB/PS toasters could remain "on" even after the food in the toaster "popped up." This could set whatever was in the toaster on fire. These toasters were manufactured for HB/PS by Durable Electrical Metal Factory Ltd., of China, from March 1997 to October 1999.
Between 1997 and 1999, HB/PS received about 230 consumer complaints involving toasters that may have failed to turn off and three consumer reports of damage to kitchen cabinets or countertops due to fires. The company also knew of product changes to attempt to correct the problem.
HB/PS reported this product to the Commission in November 1999 and voluntarily recalled 95,000 of its countertop toasters in April 2000. HB/PS offered consumers a replacement toaster.
HB/PS distributed the defective juice extractors between 1992 and October 2001. CPSC alleged that the juicer strainer baskets could break apart, posing a risk to nearby consumers who could be struck by pieces of metal or plastic. Between 1992 and 2001, HB/PS received 59 consumer complaints related to the alleged defect. The injuries included four consumers who received lacerations requiring stitches and five consumers alleging eye injuries.
HB/PS reported this product to the Commission in October 2001 and voluntarily recalled 2.4 million juice extractors in November 2001. HB/PS offered consumers a replacement strainer basket, a replacement juicer, or a $10 refund, depending upon the model of juicer the consumer owned.
HB/PS imported and distributed from 1999 through December 2002, 18 different models of slow cookers manufactured by Huamei Electronics Co. Ltd., in China. CPSC alleged the slow cookers were defective because their handles could break off when the product was lifted, exposing consumers to a risk of burns. Between 1999 and 2001, HB/PS received over 2000 complaints of cracked or broken slow cooker handles, including two reports of consumers who required medical attention for burns from hot food, as well as information regarding product changes to attempt to address the problem of handles breaking.
HB/PS first notified the Commission about this product in February 2002 and voluntarily recalled 2.7 million slow cookers in July 2003. In January 2005, Wal-Mart recalled an additional 600,000 slow cookers imported by HB/PS. Consumers were offered a replacement slow cooker base.
Consumers who have any of these recalled products should call the company toll-free at (800) 672-5872.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC’s work to ensure the safety of consumer products has contributed to a decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 40 years.
Federal law bars any person from selling products subject to a publicly announced voluntary recall by a manufacturer or a mandatory recall ordered by the Commission.
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