It’s certainly not on the same scale as the massive Mattel toy recall three years ago, but Bauer Hockey has been put in an embarrassing and potentially expensive predicament for the same reason.
THN.com has learned that on the heels of its recent decision to stop all sales and conduct a total recall of its Nike Bauer One50 Junior sticks, Bauer Hockey has ordered a recall and has halted sales of a total of 13 brands of junior and youth sticks because the paint on them contains dangerously high levels of lead.
“We’ve addressed this issue comprehensively and in the best interests of our customers,” said Bauer Hockey CEO and president Kevin Davis. “We have also strengthened our systems to ensure nothing like this ever happens again.”
The recall encompasses 13 brands of junior and youth sticks manufactured by the company since 2004 and represents about 100,000 hockey sticks that were manufactured in the company’s main facility in China. The vast majority of the sticks were manufactured prior to 2008, when the company was sold by Nike, Inc., to a group of investors led by Kohlberg & Co., and Canadian businessman W. Graeme Roustan. The only stick subject to recall that was manufactured after 2008 is the Bauer Supreme One75.
All the sticks in question contain in excess of Health Canada’s acceptable limit for lead of 600 parts per million. The threshold in the United States is lower than that.
And while officials from Bauer appear to be downplaying the recall, there are those in the industry who maintain there might be more recalls coming from Bauer, which stands to lose millions of dollars essentially due to negligence. And while other prominent stick manufacturers such as CCM-Reebok, Easton and Warrior also have factories in China, it appears this problem is exclusive to Bauer, in part because the other companies have had more rigorous testing regimens in place.
And the only thing preventing it from being a total recall is the fact the lead limits are in place only for children’s products, which is why the recall is subject only to youth and junior sticks.
Here is the complete list of Bauer products that have been removed from all store shelves and are subject to the recall:
* Nike Bauer Supreme One90 Youth and Junior stick, including shafts and replacement blades.
* Nike Bauer Supreme Junior One50 Junior stick, including shafts and replacement blades.
* Nike Bauer Supreme One40 Junior stick.
* Nike Bauer Supreme One70 Junior stick.
* Nike Bauer/Bauer Supreme One75 Junior player and goalie stick.
* Nike Bauer/Bauer Vapor XX Junior player and goalie stick.
* Nike Bauer Supreme LTX Junior stick.
* Nike Bauer Apollo Junior stick.
* Nike Quest Apollo Junior blade.
* Nike Bauer Supreme Force Junior stick.
* Nike Bauer Vapor XVI Junior stick.
* Nike Bauer Vapor XXX Lite “Woody” Junior stick.
* Nike Bauer Supreme Accel Junior stick.
While the actual chances of contracting lead poisoning from using one of the Bauer sticks is low and there have been no reports of any health issues relating to the sticks, there is still a minute possibility of it occurring. All sticks are covered with a clear coating that has passed the standards for both Health Canada and the Consumer Product Safety Commission in the United States.
But it is possible for the transfer of lead from the paint to the skin or blood stream to occur. If a player handles the stick with sweaty hands, something that would happen often, the transfer could take place and if the player then put his/her hands to his/her mouth or eyes, the lead could then be ingested by the player. Also, young hockey players sometimes have been known to rest the top of their sticks in their mouths, which could transfer the lead from the paint and it could also be transferred if a player were to be hit with the stick in his/her mouth.
The Bauer recall, while significant, pales in comparison to the recall of Mattel toys that were manufactured in China in 2007. Because of lead content that was 180 times the acceptable limits, Mattel was forced to recall almost 21 million toys worldwide. And there is a greater likelihood of a child putting a toy in his/her mouth than a hockey stick.
Anyone who still has any of the sticks in question can call (888) 734-0443 in Canada or the United States and, in exchange for his/her existing stick, will receive an “elite level” stick from Bauer at no cost.
The company has also hired a third party to test all Bauer equipment and make the changes that need to be made in the manufacturing process to ensure the lead content is acceptable in the paint.
And while this is sure to make a serious dent in Bauer’s bottom line, Davis said it will not affect the company in the long-term.
“This will in no way impact the quality of our products,” Davis said. “We are committed to doing the right thing and we will continue to meet our high standards.”