The Checkout

The Mystery of the Missing Sentences

So some eagle-eyed observers of recall releases noticed a change in the boilerplate about the Consumer Product Safety Commission that runs at the end of them.

This is the old version:

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from more than 15,000 types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. Deaths, injuries and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $800 billion annually. The CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire,electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard. The CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products - such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters, and household chemicals - contributed significantly to the decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 30 years.

This is the new version:

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from thousands of types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. The CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard. The CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products - such as toys, cribs, power tools,cigarette lighters, and household chemicals - contributed significantly to the decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer
products over the past 30 years.


Basically what changed is the boilerplate no longer says the CPSC has jurisdiction over 15,000 products, just thousands of products, and it no longer gives a tally of the economic cost defective and dangerous products.

So we bugged agency spokeswoman Julie Vallese. (Yeah, we bug her a lot.)

She explained that it was changed within the past month on every single release on the CPSC Web site because the number of product categories the CPSC oversees is "old, out of date and may not be factually accurate." The number has likely grown but the agency isn't sure by how much.

As for the second figure, the $800 billion in annual costs, no one could figure out the basis for it. Both figures were yanked from information sent to Capitol Hill, so it was decided to do the same with all agency boilerplate. "It's just been made more generic," she said.

By Annys Shin |  November 21, 2008; 4:21 PM ET
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