The New American | July , 27 2012
Maxfield and Oberton, manufacturer and distributor of the popular Buckyballs desk toys, has a message for the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC): “Thank you for trying to drive a $50 million New York-based consumer product company out of business.”
A look at the CPSC’s recent actions bears out the company’s contention. On Wednesday the agency filed suit to force Maxfield’s Buckyballs, Buckycubes, and other similar products off the market because children occasionally ingest the small, BB-sized magnets that make up the products and become ill, some requiring hospitalization and even surgery as a result.
“Before filing the lawsuit and giving Maxfield and Oberton the opportunity to defend itself and its products, CPSC systematically began contacting its retailers giving them 48 hours to tell the government that they would stop selling Buckyballs and Buckycubes,” the company explained on its website. “Some retailers capitulated to this so-called voluntary request for fear of retribution if they did not acquiesce.”
According to the Washington Post, Amazon and Brookstone, among others, caved in to government pressure to stop selling the products, and eBay “agreed to take steps to remove listings of these items.”
There is little question that swallowing these small magnets can do harm. Multiple magnets can attach to each other, tearing holes in the stomach and intestines or causing other injuries. The CPSC says it “has learned of more than two dozen ingestion incidents, with at least one dozen involving Buckyballs.” As unfortunate as such incidents are, they are still relatively rare: Over two million Buckyball sets and 200,000 Buckycubes — each set containing either 125 or 216 balls or cubes — have been sold since 2009.
“Obviously the bureaucrats see danger everywhere, and those responsible people — like our company who have vigorously promoted safety and appropriate use of our products — gets put out of business by an unfair and arbitrary process,” said Craig Zucker, founder and CEO of Maxfield and Oberton. “I don’t understand how and why they did this without following their own rules before allowing us to make our case. It almost seems like they simply wanted to put our products and industry out of business.”