Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Public Data Ferret On KOMO 1000: Consumer Product Recall Database

by May 6th, 2010

Yesterday on my regular weekly radio segment on Seattle-based KOMO 1000 about the work of our Public Data Ferret project, I spoke with “Nine2Noon” show co-anchors Brian Calvert and Nancy Barrick regarding a handy online database that lets you check the safety of consumer products before you buy them. Here’s the original tutorial post, which along with other finds from government sites is indexed by jurisdiction and subject at our own Public Data Ferret database. Here’s the audio of yesterday’s Ferret radio. The full transcript follows, below.

Brian Calvert: “Before you buy something for your kids or grandkids, make sure that something is safe. Matt Rosenberg of – where you can use their feature the Public Data Ferret – joins us on the line. Matt, you’ve actually found a one-stop for safety information when it comes to these kinds of kids products, right?”

Matt Rosenberg: “I have. Good morning Brian and Nancy. Here and there, we’ve all heard about product recalls issued by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and as you know that includes toys with small parts that are dangerous to young children, blinds with hazardous drawstrings, and that kind of thing. And certainly Brian, as you mention, toy safety is just absolutely crucial, but it’s part of a broader, searchable database, a huge database of product recall notices, that the Commission offers. It’s very easy to use and it’s a great way to protect yourself, your family and anyone on your gift list from safety hazards that could cause serious injury or even death. Now, I’ve found that a focused approach is a real time-saver, so I like to go by product type. For instance, I checked out snowmobiles, just out of curiosity, and saw that there were 43 different product recalls issued over the years. Different hazards that were cited included – and this is a little scary, but – laceration from projectiles, explosion, fire, loss of steering control, shock, drive axle failure, and a few other things. I checked out All Terrain Vehicles, and found 86 recall notices, and there’s information for just about every other imaginable product, except for food and drugs, and chemicals and vehicles, and those are regulated by other agencies.”

Nancy Barrick: “And Matt, I suppose with so many people buying things on e-Bay, and Craig’s List, where you’re really not sure where they came from and all, that this would be really important to check out.”

Matt Rosenberg: “It really is, and that’s a crucial point, Nancy. I think these e-commerce sites are great. We all love a good bargain. But, know what you’re getting. To underscore that, I looked at the April product recall notices, and saw that just this past month, new products that have been recalled include scuba-diving devices, fitness benches, outdoor propane gas fire columns, chrome shelving, glass water bottles – certain types, of course, in each case. So it’s really good to check this site, and we’ve got all the information on how to do that, at Public Data Ferret.”

Brian Calvert: “Okay, it sounds great. Matt Rosenberg, thank you for sharing. You can find the Public Data Ferret through the Web site It’s 9:19.”

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