Thanks to companies like Amazon, Alibaba, Facebook and Google, Chinese manufacturers can now reach American consumers without the traditional middlemen, and without the need for expensive advertising campaigns.
But they can also sidestep the decades-old systems built to ensure products sold on US store shelves are safe, and which hold their producers accountable for their shortcomings. Safety regulators now often find out about problems with trendy new products at the same time that consumers do — and struggle to know who is even selling them in the first place.
"We've seen an increase in direct-to-consumer sales from foreign manufacturers because it's so easy to buy products online today," Patty Davis, a spokesperson for the Consumer Product Safety Commission, told BuzzFeed News. "Consumers are moving sales online at a rapid place."
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