WASHINGTON, D.C. - In an effort to prevent children from suffering further harm, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) staff filed an administrative complaint on December 17, 2012 against Star Networks USA, LLC, of Fairfield, N.J., alleging that their Magnicube Magnet Balls and Magnet Cubes contain defects in their design, packaging, warnings and instructions, which pose a substantial risk of injury to the public. The Commission voted 2-1 to approve the filing of the complaint, which seeks, among other things, an order that the firm stop selling Star Networks Magnicube Magnet Balls and Magnet Cubes, notify the public of the defect, and offer consumers a full refund.
The Commission staff filed the administrative complaint against Star Networks after discussions with the company and its representatives failed to result in a voluntary recall plan that CPSC staff considered to be adequate and the company resumed sale of these products in November.
Magnicube Magnet Balls and Magnet Cubes sets contain from 125 to 1,027 high-powered rare earth magnets, manufactured in China. The complaint estimates about 22,000 sets were sold, priced from $20 to $80.
In response to a request from CPSC staff in July 2012, 11 firms, including Star Networks, voluntarily agreed to stop selling similar products. CPSC staff called upon these firms to cease the manufacture, importation, distribution, and sale of high-powered, manipulative magnetic products after young children and teenagers swallowed multiple magnets, which connected inside their gastrointestinal tracts and caused internal injuries requiring surgery.
The staff’s complaint alleges that CPSC has received dozens of reports of ingestions of high-powered small magnets identical in form, substance and content to Magnicube Magnet Balls and Magnet Cubes. The reports include ingestions of magnets by toddlers who placed similar magnets in their mouths and ingested them, as well as older children and teenagers who accidentally ingested this type of products while using it to mimic piercings of the tongue, lip, or cheek.
When two or more magnets are swallowed, they can pinch or trap the intestinal walls or other digestive tissue between them, resulting in acute and long term health consequences. Magnets that attract through the walls of intestines result in progressive tissue injury. Such conditions can lead to infection, sepsis, and possibly death. Medical professionals may not be aware of the dangers posed by ingestion and the corresponding need for immediate medical intervention in such cases, exacerbating the life-threatening injuries.
Zen Magnets, importer of Zen Magnets™ Rare Earth Magnet Balls, Maxfield & Oberton, importer of Buckyballs® and Buckycubes™, and now Star Networks, which reversed its earlier withdrawal of the product, are the only companies to date that have refused to comply with the staff’s request.