Retailer Recalls Children's Water Bottles

H&M Has Stores In 43 Countries

H&MH&M, the global apparel retailer that's based in Sweden and has stores in 43 countries, re-announced a recall yesterday of children's water bottles that had been sold in its stores in the United States. In conjunction with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), H&M said that the water bottles were being recalled because the product's spout can break off, posing a choking hazard to children.

Commenting on the thorough nature of the H&M recall, Rick Brenner, CEO of Top 40 supplier Prime Line (asi/79530), said industry companies should be prepared to follow H&M's lead. "Aside from the particulars of this water bottle and its safety defect – a product similar to many that are sold in our industry – promotional distributors and suppliers should take note of the thoroughness of H&M's recall process," Brenner said. "Having a well-thought-out recall process mapped out in advance should be a standard operating procedure for every company that manufactures or sells consumer products."

H&M and the CPSC had originally announced a recall of the items in September 2012; however, some of its stores continued to sell the products through March 2013. The items were manufactured in Italy and imported to the U.S. by H&M's parent company, H&M Hennes & Mauritz L.P. Leeton Lee, vice president of regulatory compliance and general counsel for Top 40 supplier ETS Express (asi/51197), said this type of recall should be viewed as a warning sign for all companies in the ad specialty market.

"Product safety risks to children can often be posed when a supplier or distributor unwittingly changes a general-use item, such as the ubiquitous sports bottle, into a children's product by simply putting a child-attractive logo or cartoon on it," Lee said. "Suppliers, decorators and distributors should be extremely vigilant when a drinkware order is primarily intended for children of ages 12 years and under – the safety regulations for kids' items are much stricter, and third-party testing is mandatory to verify that the item is safe and compliant for these younger end-users."

H&M said that consumers who return the water bottles will receive a refund and a $25 gift card to any H&M store. The company said the bottles were sold in stores nationwide between July 2012 and March 2013, and that about 200 of the items were sold even after its initial recall was announced last September.