The Checkout

Total Recall

It's been a busy past few weeks, what with spinach, Sudafed, and trans fat in the news. In the meantime, there have been a few recalls I thought were worth noting.

Orange Menace
While the E. coli outbreak in fresh spinach was center stage, bottled carrot juice contaminated with botulism is suspected to have paralyzed a Florida woman and caused respiratory failure in three Georgia residents.

Bolthouse Farms of Bakersfield, Calif., voluntarily recalled Bolthouse Farms 100% Carrot Juice, Earthbound Farm Organic Carrot Juice and President's Choice Organics 100% Pure Carrot Juice. All have use by dates up to Nov 11, 2006. (Earthbound Farm was one of the brands affected by the spinach recall, too.)

Carrot juice, because it is low in acid, has the potential, if left unrefrigerated, to develop botulism. The bacteria that causes it is commonly found in soil. Ideally, carrot juice, even when pasteurized, should be kept in temperatures at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Food and Drug Administration said the four victims may not have properly refrigerated the juice after tests of suspected lots didn't turn up any evidence of botulism. The agency offered the following no-duh advice: "Consumers should look for the words 'Keep Refrigerated' on juice labels so they know which products must be kept refrigerated."

More Warm Laps
On Saturday, Hitachi said it was recalling 16,000 Sony-made batteries used in Flora 210W and Flora Se210 laptop computers that were sold only in Japan. Hitachi acted as part of a voluntary recall effort Sony announced late last month even though Hitachi had not received any reports of fires or injuries. In other computers, the Sony batteries have shown a capacity to overheat and catch fire.

That brings the total of Sony batteries recalled to more than 7 million.

The previous recalls were: Dell Computers, 4.1 million; Apple Computers, 1.8 million; Toshiba recalled 340,000; Lenovo and IBM recalled 560,000. Fujitsu recalled batteries in some of its Biblo and Lifebook notebook computers, but the company didn't specify how many.

Sony's explanation is that metal particles floating inside the battery cells come into contact with parts of the battery they're not supposed to, creating, under certain conditions, a short circuit.

More recalls may be in the works: Hewlett-Packard and Acer Inc., have not recalled. According to Computerworld, HP is saying its configuration prevents overheating and Acer Inc. is mulling things over.

Smokin' Kitty
According to Engadget, Japanese toy maker Takara is recalling a Hello Kitty doll sold in Japan called "Hot Hot Friend" that has burned some of its owners.

What makes the doll "hot hot" is a microwavable pad that can be inserted into the doll to help keep anyone who holds it warm and cozy. In some cases, though, while being heated up, the pad has sprung a leak, and the chemical inside has seeped out, burning those who touch it.

Blogger Tokyomango says the toy has triggered two enormous recalls in Japan, where several kids and "Kitty fetishists" suffered mild to severe burns while taking the kitty out of the microwave.

Spritzing the cat with water apparently doesn't work.

For me, following recalls is like watching too much local news. But instead of being paranoid I'm going to be carjacked every five minutes, I have begun boiling my vegetables to death, looked at every toy component as a potential choking hazard and become religious about unplugging my laptop. I have yet to have a nightmare about Hello Kitty, but I expect that to happen any day now.

Of course, I'm paid to do this. Are there any true recall junkies out there? If so, have you moved into a bubble yet? Or do you live for the thrill of one day witnessing your toaster oven explode?

By Annys Shin |  October 9, 2006; 7:00 AM ET Recalls
Previous: What Really Happened to Your Luggage | Next: Orbitz for Docs? Not Yet.


Please email us to report offensive comments.

I'm on the e-mail list for the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) -- some of the stuff recalled is pretty alarming!

Posted by: Columbia, MD | October 9, 2006 2:59 PM

It's depressing that a company has to recall carrot juice - and lose a great deal of money and possibly consumer trust - because people don't know how to handle it after they've purchased it. Should milk producers do the same?

Posted by: Arlington, VA | October 9, 2006 4:40 PM

Imagine my dismay when I rechecked the Dell recall list for a battery that was "Not Affected" when the recall first came out but now "Needs Replacement". If the battery had not been so hot to the touch I would never have rechecked. I have found that all 7 of the laptops purchased at that time now need new batteries under this recall yet I was never notified by Dell that the list had been updated.

Posted by: Dell Laptop User | October 9, 2006 6:12 PM

I just heard on the radio that lettuce is on the list too! Watch out for those healthy foods! They'll get you! Is this a conspiracy by Big Meat? LOL

Posted by: Chris | October 10, 2006 11:00 AM

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