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CPSC Issues Decision on Zen Magnets

Release Date: November 03, 2017
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a Final Decision and Order on October 26, 2017, holding that Zen Magnets and Neoballs rare-earth magnet sets (Zen Magnets) are a substantial product hazard. The Commission ordered a stop sale of Zen Magnets and ordered the parties to submit to the Commission within 30 days a proposed corrective action plan that includes a refund and notice to the public.  The Commission’s Final Decision and Order sets aside a March 2016 administrative law judge’s ruling that Zen Magnets did not present a substantial product hazard when accompanied by warnings and proper age recommendations and that had ordered only a partial recall of Zen Magnets.

In issuing the Final Decision and Order, CPSC Commissioners Marietta S. Robinson, Robert S. Adler and Elliot F. Kaye held that Zen Magnets are defective, that the defect creates a substantial risk of injury to the public, and that warnings do not mitigate the risk. The Commission held that it is reasonably foreseeable that children will ingest Zen Magnets. When two or more magnets are ingested, they can attract to each other, or to other metallic objects that are ingested, across loops of bowel or other tissue; once attached, the magnets become lodged in the digestive system and cannot separate on their own. Ingested magnets that press against digestive tissue and are not removed within approximately 8 hours can cause catastrophic injuries and death. Surgery to remove multiple magnets from the gastrointestinal tracts of children has been required, and tragically, a 19-month-old girl died after ingesting similar high-powered magnets.

Acting Chairman Ann Marie Buerkle issued an opinion concurring with the majority’s decision to recall a portion of the magnets, but dissenting from the majority’s view that a design defect can arise solely as a result of product misuse.

In August 2012, CPSC staff filed an administrative complaint against Zen Magnets LLC, alleging that the magnet sets contain product defects that create a substantial risk of injury to the public. The complaint sought an order for Zen Magnets LLC to stop sale of the magnet sets, notify consumers of the recall, issue refunds and destroy all remaining recalled magnets.

It is illegal under federal law for any person to sell, offer for sale, manufacture, distribute in commerce, or import into the United States any Zen Magnets and Neoballs.

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The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risk of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product-related 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 injuries associated with consumer products over the past 50 years. 

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