Firm to Pay Fine for Drawstrings in Children’s Sweatshirts

Pro-Pac Distributing Corp. has agreed to pay a $125,000 civil penalty for failing to report <"">drawstrings in children’s sweatshirts, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) just announced.

The penalty settlement has been provisionally accepted by the Commission and resolves CPSC staff allegations that Pro-Pac knowingly failed to report to CPSC immediately, as required by federal law, that two different children’s hooded sweatshirts it imported and distributed had drawstrings at the neck.

Fourteen years ago, the CPSC issued guidelines to help prevent children from strangling or becoming entangled on the neck and waist by drawstrings in upper garments, such as jackets and sweatshirts.

In 1997, industry adopted a voluntary standard for drawstrings that incorporated these guidelines. In May 2006, the CPSC’s Office of Compliance issued an announcement that such outerwear with drawstrings at the hood or neck would be regarded as both defective and a substantial risk of injury to young children. Unfortunately, the CPSC guidelines are routinely ignored by the clothing industry, and that attitude has had deadly consequences for some children. From January 1985 through January 1999, the CPSC received reports of 22 deaths and 48 non-fatal entanglement incidents involving drawstrings on children’s clothing.

About 7,000 of these sweatshirts were sold under the ProClub label at various retailers in Los Angeles, California, and Las Vegas, Nevada, from November 2008 through December 2008 for around $20. In July 2009, CPSC and Pro-Pac announced the recall (the recall announcement can be accessed at: of both of Pro-Pac’s hooded sweatshirts with drawstrings due to a strangulation hazard.

Due to the serious nature of this hazard, parents are urged to immediately remove the drawstrings from the sweatshirts or return the garments to either the place of purchase or to Pro-Pac for a full refund.

Of note, federal law requires manufacturers, distributors, and retailers report to CPSC immediately—within 24 hours—after obtaining information reasonably supporting the conclusion that a product contains a defect which could create a substantial product hazard; creates an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death; or fails to comply with any consumer product safety rule or any other rule, regulation, standard, or ban enforced by CPSC. In agreeing to the settlement, Pro-Pac Distributing denies that it knowingly violated the law, as alleged by CPSC staff.

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