Pushchair maker defends lack of EU recall

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Maclaren today defended its decision not to organise a European recall of children's pushchairs at the centre of a safety scare despite doing so in the US.

The company announced yesterday that a million folding pushchairs in America were being recalled after reports that 12 children had their fingertips cut off when they were caught in hinges.

All Maclaren single and double umbrella pushchairs, including the popular Volo and Techno models, were voluntarily recalled by the firm, which said it was providing customers and retailers with a kit to cover the elbow joint on the hinge mechanism.

But today the company said the recall would not apply to the UK or the rest of Europe and insisted the pushchairs were safe when opened and closed correctly.

A spokesman said the products fully complied with European safety legislation and if a buggy is folded or unfolded in line with instructions, the risk of injury is "non-existent".

The spokesman said: "We wish to reassure our customers that they should continue to use their existing Maclaren buggies since they are safe when opened and closed correctly.

"As further reassurance we have updated our operating instructions and placed a warning label on the buggy to ensure that customers take care and keep children away from the buggy when it is being folded or unfolded.

"Our advice is that consumers should take the same level of caution and care as when opening or closing a car door or any other moving part that can be found in many other baby and toddler products."

He said Maclaren will be updating its UK website to give consumers clear advice and operating instructions.

"We would like to make clear this is not a European wide product recall," the spokesman added.

"In the US the term product recall has an entirely different meaning. It means corrective action or the modification of products which can be carried out in the home.

"In response to accidents which occurred when buggies where not operated in line with instructions and safety guidelines our US company decided to voluntarily supply kits to cover the elbow joint as a safety measure.

"There are a lower number of similar reported incidents amongst the considerably higher number of Maclaren buggies sold in Europe.

"If a buggy is folded or unfolded in line with our operating instructions the risk of injury is non-existent."

Yesterday the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) said, in a joint statement with Maclaren USA: "The stroller's hinge mechanism poses a fingertip amputation and laceration hazard to the child when the consumer is unfolding/opening the stroller."

It said the firm had received 15 reports of children placing their finger in the pushchair's hinge mechanism, "resulting in 12 reports of fingertip amputations in the United States".

The recalled models in America include the Volo, Triumph, Quest Sport, Quest Mod, Techno XT, Techno XLR, Twin Triumph, Twin Techno and Easy Traveller.

A spokeswoman for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA): "This story today should remind people of the need for care in putting them up and down and encourage children not to play with pushchairs.

"If you do have any further concerns, the best advice is to contact Maclaren in this country to see what kind of advice they have available."

One concerned grandmother said Maclaren's reassurances had not made her or her daughter feel any happier about using the pushchair.

Rosemary Lacey, 61, from Ely, Cambridgeshire, said her 27-year-old daughter, Veronica Sellers, has a toddler and a baby and uses the company's products which have been recalled in America.

She said: "We called Maclaren this morning and they said we had nothing to worry about.

"But it hasn't made us feel any better. It's still a concern."

Northamptonshire Trading Standards Department, which covers Maclaren's UK base in Long Buckby, said a product recall in the US was not the same as that in the UK and no pushchairs were actually being taken back from consumers.

Interim head of trading standards David Hedger said: "Firstly, I would like to make clear that a recall in the US is not the same as the UK.

"The product recall in the US is to alert people to a potential safety risk and no products are being actually taken back from consumers.

"Maclaren approached us seeking our advice on this issue in September.

"Because the pushchairs conform to EU regulations and there has only been one reported injury involving a Maclaren pushchair in the UK, we advised them that a recall in this country or the EU was not a legal requirement.

"Any decision to voluntarily take action in relation to such products would have to be made by Maclaren as we have no power to recall a product that conforms to safety standards.

"This issue acts as a timely reminder to parents to take extra care when putting up any children's equipment that has a folding mechanism."