CPSC LIKELY TO NIX SAFETY STANDARDS FOR CARTS

WASHINGTON (FNS) -- Consumer Product Safety Commission commissioners are expected to vote shortly on a staff recommendation against mandatory safety standards for shopping carts.The CPSC said only 8% of related injuries to small children involve shopping cart tipovers.According to government figures, 21,600 children ages 5 and under are hurt every year in shopping cart accidents, with only 1,800 of

WASHINGTON (FNS) -- Consumer Product Safety Commission commissioners are expected to vote shortly on a staff recommendation against mandatory safety standards for shopping carts.

The CPSC said only 8% of related injuries to small children involve shopping cart tipovers.

According to government figures, 21,600 children ages 5 and under are hurt every year in shopping cart accidents, with only 1,800 of those incidents caused by tipped carts. The CPSC added that nearly all these accidents are not serious; only about 10 a year require hospitalization. Manufactured domestically by six firms, shopping carts in use daily number more than 10 million, with another 1.4 million purchased every year.

The CPSC was first petitioned to investigate shopping carts in 1975, when an outside engineer suggested that a wider wheel base and a lower center of gravity would help reduce accidents. The agency rejected that petition, as well as another in 1994 that asked for automatic child restraints, saying that injury statistics do not paint shopping carts as an extreme safety risk.

Instead, Ann Brown, CPSC chairwoman, praised an agency initiative which has joined the Food Marketing Institute, Johnson & Johnson and Safe Strap, a manufacturer of child restraints, in a volunteer program to place thousands of safety straps in carts nationwide. Called the "National Safe Kids Campaign," the program has also worked to encourage parents to use the shopping cart straps though posters and in-store announcements.

"What's great about 'Safe Kids' is that it allows the retailer enough flexibility to incorporate the elements that they need for the program," said an FMI spokeswoman.

Brown said that for now the CPSC should monitor the success of "Safe Kids," which began last spring, before mandating standards that could force smaller retailers to revamp their carts.

"We don't want to do something that the data would not necessitate and would punish small businesses," she said.