It's not just my imagination….The Canadian National Quality Instiitue just released the results of a report they conducted over the past 5 years.  Product recalls doubled last year (2006) over the previous year. The 10 product categories included food, beverages, toys, jewellery, clothing, consumer electronics, appliances, furniture, tools, and sports equipment. Over the five-year period, there were 837 product recalls or approximately 20 million items. There were 279 recalls in 2006, the highest number in the five years, almost doubling the number of recalls in 2005.

You do the math…it's an alarming trend.  We have a tendancy to blame China for it, but the statistics say that Canada (32%) is as much to blame as China (28%) is.  That said, look at the categories, and acknowledge that food recalls have made up 60% of the recalls (primarily Canada and US sourced), 

Taking food out of the picture (yes, we really need to watch what we eat), and suddenly China jumps out as a major source of the problem.  Part of it comes back to entire processes.  They simply don't have them.  Human inspectors on parts mass produced.  In 10 years, China went from a nobody in the manufacturing world to an estimated 50% to 70% of the worlds consumer goods depending on who's statistics you use…and we know statistics don't lie Wink.  We spent the last 100 years putting control systems in place, ISO, etc, or at least the last 30 of them after we learned from the mistakes of the first 70. 

Take my son's Thomas the Train set.  A voluntary manufacturers recall earlier this year on it due to lead in the paint used on recent production – made in China –  sent back 3 of his 20 trains and a couple of accessory pieces – to the tune of 1.5 million pieces recalled.  As a good will gesture, they ship out Toad, another train as well as the original pieces he had replaced with no lead models.  And 2 weeks later, a recall notice on 200,000 of those and other pieces recalled, the replacements, due to excessive lead again. 

Don't forget these are voluntary recalls, not government mandated, hence not even tracked in recall statistics.  Based on that, what's the true numbers of recalls and what is the true effect to our economy of those supposedly cheaper manufacturing costs offshore.  And how many companies have gone under from support costs due to increased recalls, failures, etc.  Look at warranties now on most electronics.  Most are 1 year or less.  I'm even seeing 90 days now.  Who buys a product with a 90 day perspective. 

Enough of the rant… Buy wisely.  Support local small business and think about the savings next time you pick up something made in China…are you really saving money and at what cost.