Recalled Boppy baby pillow linked to 10 infant deaths still widely sold on Facebook Marketplace, regulators say

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Loungers, which are supposed to be used when babies are awake and supervised, can put infants at risk of suffocation or asphyxiation in a matter of minutes, researchers have found.

Leila Register | NBC News

A recalled baby pillow that’s now been linked to at least 10 infant deaths is still being widely sold on Facebook Marketplace, and federal regulators are calling on the company to do more to stop the sales. 

A series of newborn loungers from The Boppy Company were recalled in September 2021 after eight deaths were linked to the product. Soon after the recall, two more infants died while sleeping on the pillows, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said Tuesday in a news release. 

In one incident in October 2021, an infant was placed on the lounger to sleep and later died by positional asphyxia after rolling underneath a nearby adult pillow, the agency said. 

The following month, another infant was placed on a lounger in an adult bed with a parent present and was later found dead on the pillow, the agency said, adding the cause of death was undetermined. 

The products are dangerous because infants can suffocate if they roll, move or are placed on the lounger in a position that obstructs breathing, the CPSC said. Infants can also suffocate if they roll off the lounger onto another surface, such as an adult pillow, the agency said. 

Sales of the recalled products — which include the Boppy Original Newborn Lounger, the Boppy Preferred Newborn Lounger and the Pottery Barn Kids Boppy Newborn Lounger — have been illegal for nearly two years. But the CPSC has found thousands of the recalled loungers available for sale on Facebook Marketplace, the agency’s commissioners and chair wrote in a Tuesday letter addressed to Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook parent Meta.

The agency has formally requested — on average about a thousand times a month — that Meta take down the listings, but the products are still available on the site and sales are continuing, according to the letter.

“These sales are illegal; it is against the law to sell recalled consumer products, whether new or used,” the letter said. “Far too often, the CPSC has found [recalled] products listed for sale on Facebook Marketplace even after recall information has been provided to your company. We call on you to identify recalled and violative products and to prevent their listing by your users. By allowing such products to be posted, you are putting Facebook Marketplace users at risk.” 

In response, a Meta spokesperson told CNBC it takes this issue seriously. 

“Like other platforms where people can buy and sell goods, there are instances of people knowingly or unknowingly selling recalled goods on Marketplace,” the spokesperson said. “When we find listings that violate our rules, we remove them.” 

The company noted its policies prohibit the sale of recalled goods and said it works closely with governments, regulatory bodies and manufacturers to identify recalled products that are for sale on its platform. 

The CPSC has found thousands of the recalled loungers available for sale on Facebook Marketplace.

Budrul Chukrut | SOPA Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

It relies on its commerce review system, which is largely automated, to enforce its policies but said staff manually review listings in some cases.  

The CPSC commissioners said the sale of recalled products on Facebook Marketplace has been an ongoing issue that involves more than just the baby pillows, but they called the Boppy lounger sales a “particularly egregious example.” 

In April, Alexander Hoehn-Saric, the chair of the CPSC, wrote to Meta about sales of the recalled Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper on Facebook Marketplace. In the agency’s Tuesday letter, it noted Meta had made searching for the product harder after the letter was sent, but consumers were still able to find it and buy it. 

“This is a helpful first step, but a system that prioritizes prevention of such sales should be able to spot recalled products in real time, not just restrict searches when the matter gains government attention and public notoriety,” the letter said.

“As a leading technology company, Meta can and should dedicate the necessary resources to protect consumers by preventing both the listing and sale of recalled products,” it continued. “It should also incorporate access to recall information, facilitating consumer ability to identify recalled products and obtain available remedies to address the hazards they pose.” 

Instead of embedding recall information directly into Marketplace listings, the company directs buyers and sellers to “look on the website of the item’s manufacturer” to figure out if the item in a post has been recalled. 

Meta noted it has been in contact with Boppy and is working with the company to remove any listings that are flagged to its teams. 

The CPSC asked Meta to respond by June 30 with any changes it intends to make to address the sale of recalled products.

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