VOICE OVER: Peter DeGiglio
WRITTEN BY: Cassandra Kalley
These products weren't just bad for business, they were bad for everyone. For this list, we're looking at products that were recalled or outright banned due to tragic circumstances. Our countdown includes the Ford Pinto, Kinder Surprise Eggs, Milk, and more!
Top 10 Products That Were Banned Because People Died
Welcome to WatchMojo and today, we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Products That Were Banned Because People Died.
For this list, we’re looking at products that were recalled or outright banned due to tragic circumstances.
Do any of these seem like obviously bad ideas? Let us know in the comments.
#10: Ford Pinto
Did you know Ford was tried for reckless homicide? In the late 70s, the motor company was taken to court for the deaths of three Indiana teenage girls. The weapon? A Ford Pinto. When this stylish car was hit from behind, the gas tank could explode. It wasn’t the only subcompact car with this problem, but it also emerged that Ford knew about the issue and didn’t fix it. The three teens from Indiana were sitting inside the Pinto when it was struck by a van. The subsequent lawsuit was one of 117 related to rear-end accidents in the Pinto. Ford won that lawsuit, but lost another famous case, Grimshaw v. Ford Motor Co., which also involved a fatal fuel tank fire. They recalled the automobile in June 1978,.
#9: Infantino's Baby Slings
“Baby wearing” was a popular trend in the early 2000s. New mothers and fathers would carry babies on their chest in open sling bags. It was a way to keep the baby closer to the parent while running errands and, Infantino touted, it allowed for bonding between parent and infant. However, after three infants suffocated, Infantino recalled their “SlingRider” and “Wendy Bellissimo” slings in 2010, announcing a replacement program. The Consumer Product Safety Commission warned parents not to use the slings for babies under four months, stating that they could restrict breathing and block airways in certain positions.
Kids will eat literally anything (as long as it’s not vegetables) - including completely inedible objects. And it’s this fact that led to the demise of the magnetic toy Buckyballs, which took the US by storm in 2009. Although intended for older children and adults, Buckyballs were often swallowed by children. When two or more were ingested, the super-powerful magnets would connect, causing absolutely horrendous internal tears. In fact, magnet toys caused an estimated 2,900 emergency room visits between 2009 and 2013, including one death. This prompted the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to issue a recall in 2012. In response, Buckyballs inventor Craig Zucker went to war, waging a public relations campaign against the commission! He ultimately lost.
#7: FCKD UP
Remember Four Loko? The alcohol-caffeine beverage was famously banned by some states after a spate of hospitalizations, prompting Four Loko to remove the caffeine, taurine, and guarana. Well, FCKD UP was basically the Canadian version of the original Four Loko ... albeit with way less caffeine. The drink was pulled from convenience store shelves after a teen death in 2018. Fourteen-year-old Athena Gervais was found dead after a house party, and it emerged that she’d been drinking FCKED UP. The media calls the intoxication caused by such concoctions as “wide awake drunk”. Due to this feeling, some people don’t realize how drunk they are until it’s too late.
#6: Infant Sleep Positioners
Produced by multiple companies, infant sleep positioners were marketed as a means to prevent flat-head syndrome, acid reflux, and sudden infant death syndrome (or SIDS). However, all of these claims were unproven. Worse, these positioners created a serious suffocation risk. In the 2010s, the FDA flooded the internet and TVs with PSAs warning against their use, linking them to at least 12 deaths. Subsequently, many retailers stopped selling them, and regulatory bodies in other countries issued similar warnings. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies sleep on their backs on a firm, empty surface.
#5: Firestone & Ford Tires
Ford and Firestone have had a business partnership stretching back to 1906. But in the early 2000s, they had a very public fight. According to Ford, the Wilderness AT Tire by Firestone had treads that could separate from the tire and cause blowouts while driving. According to Firestone, the Ford Explorer was to blame, with a faulty design causing the car to roll. It began to feel like a divorce, with each blaming the other for hundreds of fatalities in the US alone. The public were the kids caught in the middle. Eventually though, the tires were recalled and the automobile was redesigned.
#4: Lawn Darts
So, imagine a game of darts, but in your backyard rather than a bar. Sounds fun, right? Now imagine the darts are giant! If you’re thinking ‘well, that sounds a little bit dangerous,’ you’d be more than a little bit right. The needle end of the dart had to be sharp enough to pierce the ground, which also made it sharp enough to pierce people. In the 1970 and 80s, this caused thousands of visits to hospital emergency rooms and at least three deaths, leading to a ban in the United States and Canada. They remain legal however in the EU.
#3: Kinder Surprise Eggs
Since they’re packaged like a Cadbury Creme Egg, it’s understandable that some kids - and adults - would simply pop these large chocolate eggs into their mouths. However, instead of a creamy center, they’d find a less forgiving plastic container with a toy inside. After several deaths due to choking, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission banned importation of Kinder Surprise. They remain legal however in many other countries - including Canada and Mexico. However, in 2017, a chocolate egg with the toy packaged separately called Kinder Joy finally arrived Stateside.
#2: Crib Bumpers
Heavy blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, and plush bumpers might seem like cute and comfortable additions to a baby’s crib. Unfortunately though, crib bumpers were also linked to 77 deaths between 1985 and 2012. This startlingly high number of incidents lead to PSAs warning new parents of the dangers. In response, some states, including Maryland, Ohio, and New York, as well as the city of Chicago, have banned crib bumpers. They’re still available for purchase in other locations, but ongoing efforts aim to ban their manufacturing and importation nationwide.
#1: Milk & Baby Formula
Melamine is used in making multiple products the world over, including flame-retardant paints and plastics. You’re probably now asking: “Why would anyone put that in baby formula?” Well, sadly, the answer is that many companies in China, most prominently the Sanlu Group, were using it to fake high protein values in order to pass quality checks. The problem is that melamine can also cause serious kidney problems. As a result, an estimated 54,000 babies were hospitalized and six died. When the scandal was exposed in 2008, it led to a massive recall, as well as prison and death sentences.