Word came out last week that another recall has been made–this time covering glass covers sold by
one of the storied names in imported cookware, Le Creuset. While a French manufacturer, Creuset has also gone to the China sources in what sure is an attempt to maintain margins or meet price points demanded by retailers. Glass covers ought to be properly tempered, so if they do break, they shatter into small rounded pieces (like auto glass) rather than lacerating shards.
Visits to a number of Chinese factories has convinced me that you can get anything you want in China, but like everything else there is no free lunch. If you want rigorous quality control, proper production monitoring, and serious post production followup, one has to be prepared to pay for it. Chinese manufacturers aren’t dumb and they don’t stay in business by giving stuff away. If you drive a low-ball price, low-ball quality is what you will get.
Creuset may have had all of these and yet still be erring on the side of caution. Woe unto the American business which hears of a product problem and fails to notify the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Note also that under the current administration that enforcement efforts and the number of recalls has increased. Company executives can actually go to jail should they fail to report product problems to the government.
Some of the sorriest product out of China comes in as a private label product. Retailers conduct on-line reverse auctions for an hour or two, forcing a number of manufacturers to cut each other’s prices until the low man on the totem pole wins the order. Then it is up to the manufacturer to figure out how to make any money on the deal. We hear weekly from people who bought a priv
ate label product and are unhappy with them. The retailer’s local operation has no idea where it was made, and typically the buyer is left holding the shoddy pan.
Buying a name brand product doesn’t necessarily insure quality, or that there won’t be a recall, but it pays off more often than not, in our opinion.