CLEVELAND - The Pampers Dry Max was launched as a diaper that would keep your baby drier. But soon after hitting the market, parents revolted on Facebook, saying it left babies screaming in pain.
Some said it left what seemed like and extreme case of diaper rash, almost like a burn.
As part of an investigation involving Scripps-Howard TV stations from across the country, we turned to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
With more than 4,000 complaints from moms and dads, the agency was investigating Dry Max and we wanted to see how. Under the Federal Freedom of Information Act, we made a request to see all the paperwork related to the investigation After sending our request last summer, we waited.
Eleven months later, two boxes of papers arrived containing 2,183 pages of emails, analysis and experts weighing in on the mystery.
But, the vital information about what could've triggered reactions was deleted. More than 500 whole pages were missing from the 2,100-page investigative file, with other facts blacked out.
"In the case of a government investigation of private industry, this is pretty much the standard course of what we see," said Chuck Tobin, with Washington, D.C. law firm Holland & Knight.
Tobin has fought dozens of cases on behalf of information seekers and understands why a chunk of the Pampers investigative file would be pulled. The documents given to us leave out many important facts, from the company's testing of the diaper to ingredients used to make them.
"It is difficult to understand from the standpoint of the consumer who wants to know everything. But there are legitimate reasons why a company would want to protect its trade secrets," Tobin said.
The government cited those reasons in withholding paperwork, saying, "The CPSC was required to share the request with the company and they made claims of confidentiality with respect to the testing data and other proprietary information, which led to certain information not being disclosed."
The agency also points out that their investigation did not turn up any reason to recall the Dry Max diapers, and Proctor & Gamble says its product is safe.
In a statement, Pampers emphasized that both the CPSC and Health Canada found no connection between Dry Max and diaper rash. As for their investigative file, a spokeswoman says they supplied all data required by those agencies and that any information removed was confidential information on their products, such as formula cards or personal consumer information.
Copyright 2011 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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