Product Safety & Recalls


Toyota recalls over one million vehicles for air bags, wipers.

The AP (1/31, Kageyama) reports that Toyota is “recalling 907,000 cars, mostly Corollas, due to air bags that can improperly inflate when the vehicle's electronic signals damage a chip in the part that controls the air bags. It also is recalling 385,000 Lexus IS luxury cars with wipers that can get stuck if there is heavy snowfall.” While Toyota had initially said there were no accidents related to the problem, a spokesperson on Wednesday said that there were two crashes in the US related to the air bag problem. In addition, Toyota has confirmed 18 cases of injuries form the air bag problem and a total of “46 reports of problems involving the air bags from North America, and one from Japan, and 25 reports of problems related to the windshield wipers.”

USA Today (1/30, Woodyard, 1.71M) reports, “Toyota says the air bag control module for the supplemental restraint system in the Corolla and Corolla Matrix vehicles could have been manufactured with faulty circuit boards. If it malfunctions, it could cause a short, causing a buildup of heat or potentially causing the air bags or seat belt pretensioners to deploy when there hasn't been a crash.” While “in the case of the wiper blades on the Lexus IS, the loose nut could cause the wipers to fail if they encounter a heavy load that puts them under pressure, like the buildup of snow, Toyota says.”

The Los Angeles Times (1/30, Hirsch, 692K) notes that “Toyota has had a series a large recalls in recent years and has paid record federal fines for not recalling its vehicles fast enough. But that doesn't seem to bother buyers.”

The Detroit News (1/31, Shepardson, 119K) reports that the investigation into the air bags “began in August when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asked other automakers for information on air bag malfunctions using the chip that was used in Chrysler Jeep Liberty SUVs that were under investigation.”

Also reporting on the recall are the New York Times (1/30, Jensen, 1.68M), the Christian Science Monitor (1/30, Velasco, 47K), the Washington Times (1/31, Chumley, 76K), Cars (1/30), WUSA-TV Washington (1/31), the Detroit Bureau (1/31), and WWJ-TV Detroit (1/30).

FDA warns company over unapproved nasal spray.

In continuing coverage, USA Today (1/31, Weise, 1.71M) reports that the FDA sent a warning letter to Boca Raton, Florida-based Flu & Cold Defense LLC, saying its GermBullet “nasal spray's claim that it is 'laboratory tested and shown to reduce illness-causing bacteria, cold and flu viruses' is a 'false and misleading promotional statement.'” The FDA says the company is selling GermBullet over the counter, illegally, because despite claims that the drug can “treat or cure” influenza, Flu & Cold Defense has never submitted trial data and an application for approval of the product as a drug to the FDA. The company has 15 days to respond to the agency's allegations. Meanwhile, the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Compliance Office Director, Howard Sklamberg said that if Flu & Cold Defense “continues to make unsubstantiated claims about the product, the agency may take enforcement action that could include seizure of the drug or criminal prosecution.”

Another pet-food company removes dog treats containing Chinese chicken from shelves.

ABC News (1/31, Galli) reports on its website that “another major pet food company has pulled dog treats that use Chinese chicken from shelves after finding residue of illegal antibiotics. Hartz Mountain, which manufactures Hartz Chicken Chews and Hartz Oinkies Pig Skin Twists wrapped with Chicken, has pulled both products off the market, saying they contain trace amounts of an antibiotic not approved for use in the U.S.” According to the ABC News website, “earlier this month, Del Monte and Nestle Purina voluntarily pulled chicken jerky pet treats made in China off the market after the New York State Department of Agriculture found possible contamination by an antibiotic illegal in the U.S. in Del Monte's Milo's Kitchen products and in Nestle Purina's Waggin' Train and Canyon Creek Ranch treats.”