More than two weeks after initially claiming an urgent warning from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) was "inaccurate and misleading," Peloton issued a voluntary recall of some of its home treadmills after acknowledging the machines caused one child's death, as well as multiple injuries to other children and one pet.
According to CPSC, Peloton recalled approximately 125,000 of its Tread+ treadmill machines with model number TR01 on May 5, 2021.
On April 17, 2021, the CPSC warned the public to immediately stop using the treadmills, noting it was aware of 39 incidents of children and a pet being injured after they were sucked under the device by the rolling tread part of the machine.
To demonstrate the danger, CPSC released a video of two young children playing on a treadmill in northern Virginia. At one point the smaller one, a 2-year-old boy, gets pulled under and trapped underneath. The child is eventually able to struggle free. (We urge caution: The video is distressing.)
CPSC warned that taking the precaution of locking the device while not using it was insufficient to prevent injuries:
It is believed that at least one incident occurred while a parent was running on the treadmill, suggesting that the hazard cannot be avoided simply by locking the device when not in use. Reports of a pet and objects being sucked beneath the Tread+ also suggest possible harm to the user if the user loses balance as a result.
On that same day, Peloton responded in a news release refuting CPSC's warning, stating, "The company is troubled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission's (CPSC) unilateral press release about the Peloton Tread+ because it is inaccurate and misleading."
The company added that it believed there was "no reason to stop using Tread+" as long as safety instructions were followed. The news release also stated that Peloton notified CPSC in March 2021 when it found out that a child died while using one of the machines.
CPSC's announcement on May 5 of Peloton's voluntary recall stated, "Peloton has received 72 reports of adult users, children, pets and/or objects being pulled under the rear of the treadmill, including 29 reports of injuries to children such as second- and third-degree abrasions, broken bones, and lacerations."
We also reached out to Peloton for comment, asking why it initially rebutted CPSC's warning. We will update if we get a response.
CPSC's announcement of the recall included a statement by Peloton CEO John Foley apologizing for the company's initial response.
"The decision to recall both products was the right thing to do for Peloton’s Members and their families," Foley's statement said. "I want to be clear, Peloton made a mistake in our initial response to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s request that we recall the Tread+. We should have engaged more productively with them from the outset. For that, I apologize."
Peloton, which sells home exercise equipment, rocketed into the public awareness in December 2019 with an advertisement for a stationary bicycle that went viral for all the wrong reasons.
The ad featured a man gifting his petite partner with a Peloton bike, which she appears to be excited (or horrified) by. She films herself exercising on the bike for a year, then dutifully watches her filmed rides with the man and narrates, "A year ago, I didn't know how much this could change me," even though she looks exactly the same.
The ad was roundly scorched on social media.