Total Recall: Honda Stalls, Chrysler Needs a Cushion, Tainted Turkey, More

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With companies announcing a seemingly constant stream of new recalls, it can be a challenge for consumers to keep track of the latest products and food getting pulled off the shelves. To make life easier, DailyFinance will now collect them all in one place for you to check each week.

This is Total Recall.

Shifting Gears, By Accident

Honda Motor (HMC) announced Friday that it will recall a total of 2.26 million vehicles in the U.S and China because of a defect in automatic transmissions. The models involved include the 2005-2010 Accord, the 2007-2010 CR-V and 2005-2008 Element.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the defective transmissions could cause vehicles to roll "after the driver has placed the gear in the park position" and to stall unexpectedly due to a short circuit. Honda says no one has been injured or killed in the U.S. because of these problems, but NHTSA sensibly warns of "the risk of a crash or personal injury to persons within the path of a rolling vehicle."

The Wall Street Journal notes that the "number of vehicles to be recalled in the world's two biggest car markets is equal to 63% of the 3.56 million vehicles that [Honda] sold last year worldwide."

Chrysler's Recall-Recall

Chrysler has recalled more than 367,000 Dodge and Chrysler minivans -- including the 2008 Town and Country, Voyager and Caravan models -- because of a leak in the air conditioning and heating system that could cause air bags to "deploy unexpectedly and without warning."

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This is the second recall of Chrysler minivans for the same problem, with the first having been announced in January. Back then, according to USA Today, dealers fixed the leak by replacing a grommet. But the problem didn't end there: "Chrysler says its engineers have determined that the moisture may have damaged the chip circuit boards in the repaired vans and compromised their performance, so it's recalling them again to inspect and possibly replace them," the paper reports.

The dangers of faulty airbags include "aggressive deployment," in which the safety feature fires at the right time (i.e., during an accident or collision), but with excessive force, injuring instead of shielding the occupant.

DuPont's Imprelis Imperils the Trees

Colossal chemical company DuPont (DD) said Thursday that it plans to stop selling and recall its widely used (and bizarrely named) herbicide Imprelis, "after customers and several lawsuits complained that the treatment has killed thousands of trees," Reuters reports.

Imprelis, touted by DuPont as "the most scientifically advanced turf herbicide in over 40 years," is intended for professional use, to target broadleaf weeds in turf. Apparently -- and shockingly, for an herbicide -- it's also deleterious to evergreen trees, such as the white pine and the spruce, whose presence is presumably desired for landscaping purposes.

In a statement, DuPont said it was working with the Environmental Protection Agency to determine "the most effective way to implement" a product recall and return program. If you sense the hint of duress in the company's desperate tone, you're probably right: The EPA is reportedly preparing a "stop sale" order.

DuPont says Imprelis went through more than 400 trials before it was approved for use in all states except New York and California, those bastions of wisdom (regulation-wise, at least).

Just Please Don't Lick-A-Pin

Build-A-Bear Workshop (BBW) is recalling 28,700 lapel pins labeled "Love.Hugs.Peace" because of unsafe levels of lead in their surface paint. According to STLtoday, the company was first alerted to the problem in 2010 by the Center for Environmental Health, a California consumer advocacy group, which found 10 times the federal limit for lead in children's toys when it tested the pins.

In May of that year, Build-A-Bear defended itself to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, saying the pin had passed "rigorous testing." The company finally reversed itself Thursday, issuing a voluntary recall and accompanying statement asserting "that this situation is an isolated occurrence."

The pins, which were manufactured in China, retailed for $3.50. Customers can return their pins to any Build-A-Bear Workshop for a $5 store coupon. The usefulness of a $5 refund in cases of childhood lead exposure is unclear. Consumers can call 868-236-5683 for more information.

Target's Collapsing Novelty Stools

Also on Thursday, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commissions announced that Target (TGT) has issued a recall for 206,000 wooden step stools sold at its stores across the country -- and online -- between January 2007 and October 2010. The company has received 26 reports of stools breaking or collapsing, causing injuries including fractures to wrists, a hip and a pelvis.

Fourteen of the reported incidents involved children, and seven involved adults, according to the CPSC. (Five reports did not specify the age of the injured consumers.) The two-step stools, priced between $25 and $30, were sold under the Circo and Do Your Room (DTR) brands and came in various colors, including natural, red, white and honey.

Full refunds are available for customers who return their stools to any Target store. For more information, call Target's toll-free phone line, 800-440-0680, or visit its website.

Tainted Turkey

On Wednesday, Cargill Value Added Meats Retail, a division of Cargill Meats Solutions Corp., recalled 36 million pounds of ground turkey due to potential contamination by a multiple drug-resistant strain of Salmonella Heidelberg. This is the third-largest food recall in U.S. history, according to the Department of Agriculture.

The outbreak of salmonellosis, traced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to a Cargill plant in Springdale, Arkansas, has killed one person in California and sickened 78 others across 26 states. According to a Patch.com website in Pennsylvania, "The recall covers ground turkey sold under the Honeysuckle, Riverside, Natural Lean and numerous other labels and bears the notation 'P-964' inside the USDA inspection marking, the USDA said."

What's funny -- not in the sense of being humorous, but rather strange and unnerving -- is that the inquiry into this outbreak dates back to late March, "when CDC officials noticed an unusually high rate of hospitalizations related to salmonella," according to the Alaska Dispatch. But the Food and Safety Inspection Service only issued a public alert about the pathogen on July 29.

Apparently, there's an involved investigation process which has to be painstakingly followed before a particular business is identified with an outbreak. Which is great from the perspective of protecting businesses, but less so from a consumer safety standpoint.

Asked about the delay, a CDC official explained, "We needed to ensure that everything had lined up in a way that we were convinced." From the Dispatch:
When the FDA went ahead and contracted Cargill last week, it met with the company's legal representatives to inform them of their findings. A second meeting took place Wednesday with Cargill's corporate management. That resulted in the voluntary recall later in the day...
So while the CDC was going out of its way to ensure that Cargill could avoid negative publicity, if at all possible, and while Cargill was using what is presumably a high-powered legal team to protect itself to the maximum allowable extent, unknowing consumers continued to purchase potentially tainted meat.

How many people got sick while these various government agencies were handling Cargill with kid gloves?

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