Updated: June 7th, 2017 02:28am PT

Statement from mifold in Response to Stiftung Warentest evaluation of the mifold Grab-and-Go Booster seat

Germany – June 7th, 2017 - The German based consumer organization Stiftung Warentest (test.de) recently published a report on the mifold® Grab-and-Go Booster seat®. Their conclusion is that the mifold booster seat is unsafe.

Carfoldio Ltd., the manufacturer of mifold, disagrees with Stiftung Warentest and believes that they are wrong. We designed, developed and tested mifold over 3 years and it is obvious to us that Stiftung Warentest have not been as professional and thorough in their testing and analysis and therefore their conclusions are factually incorrect and misleading. We are providing the information below to clarify the situation for our customers.

Is mifold a Booster Seat? Absolutely yes!

Over the past three years, the mifold booster seat has been independently crash tested repeatedly by the following international, accredited child restraint testing organizations:

These organisations have validated and certified that the mifold Grab-and-Go booster seat meets or exceeds all applicable international safety regulations in every single country worldwide that regulates the use of backless booster seats. In Europe, mifold complies with regulation UN ECE R44.04. In the United States, mifold complies with NHTSA regulation FMVSS213. In Canada, mifold complies with RSSR CMVSS213.

We trust these internationally respected organisations and the government regulatory bodies to effectively define the parameters for a safe child restraint system.  Stiftung Warentest claim, “… this seat offers the child virtually no protection in the event of an accident”. The data they present and explanations they offer are inaccurate, untrue, misleading and unprofessional for such a reputable consumer organisation.

Please read our full statement below for a more detailed explanation.



If the mifold Grab-and-Go booster seat is safe according to all these world authorities, then what have Stiftung Warentest stated incorrectly?

What is incorrect in the Stiftung Warentest report?

Error #1: Lap belt performance

Stiftung Warentest have stated results and conclusions that are not supported in the data they have published. Specifically, in two sections of the report, Stiftung Warentest state, “…the [lap] belt can cut into the child’s stomach and damage their organs and pelvis.”

This situation is commonly known as ‘submarining’ and this cannot happen when a child uses the mifold seat. In fact, preventing submarining is one of the main benefits and safety features of the mifold seat. The design of the mifold seat actually makes submarining impossible.

Consumers do not need to believe Carfoldio Ltd. on the point that none of the data presented by Stiftung Warentest indicates any submarining. ADAC, another independent, well respected German consumer organisation has independently reviewed the full set of Stiftung Warentest test data and videos and have drawn exactly the opposite conclusion:

ADAC (Germany): “… the hip strap does not slip upwards to the abdomen; it remains in place and the risk of internal injury is reduced”

Stiftung Warentest and ADAC have been testing child restraint systems together with TCS and ÖAMTC since 1968. The crash tests of mifold conducted in May 2017 have been done together with these partners.

Therefore you can confidently conclude that the mifold effectively prevents submarining as stated by ADAC and properly protects the stomach and abdomen of your child.

In addition, Stiftung Warentest shared their test data with Carfoldio Ltd. Their measurement for abdominal load was 0.2 Bar (from two pressure sensors in the abdomen of the crash test dummy). These are very low figures indicating that the lap belt did not move upwards and submarining did not occur.

Error #2: Frontal collision performance

Stiftung Warentest have stated correctly that the mifold seat “… passes the tests for the European Safety Standards”. However, Stiftung Warentest goes on to say that, “… mifold only just meets the requirements of the standard” (our bold highlighting) in a frontal collision; indicating that this is somehow insufficient for protecting a child.

Stiftung Warentest have not presented any data to substantiate this claim. However, independent research conducted by Tass International in the Netherlands in November 2016 refutes this claim. This independent study shows that the mifold seat performs at a similar level to twelve leading European high-back and backless booster seats.

Error #3: Shoulder strap position

Stiftung Warentest have stated, “The mifold … does not hold the shoulder strap in the correct positon”. That is it! Stiftung Warentest make no further comment on this. They do not show any data, images or video to support this claim.

Although Stiftung Warentest make this unsubstantiated claim without stating how the shoulder strap position is incorrect, their video of the frontal collision actually shows the exact opposite! The video shows that the mifold seat does position the shoulder strap correctly.

In a collision or deceleration event, an incorrectly positioned shoulder strap would slip off the child’s shoulder allowing the child’s upper body to accelerate forward in an uncontrolled manner, risking head collision and injury.

It is clear from the Stiftung Warentest video that this does not happen and the forward head excursion of the dummy is very effectively restrained.

Error #4: Incorrect fitting

Stiftung Warentest have stated, “… there is a high risk of parents not fitting the seat correctly.  The seat comes with instructions however … installation is not completely self-explanatory”.

Stiftung Warentest give one example. The mifold seat is designed to be placed completely flat on the vehicle seat. Stiftung Warentest state, “… some of the testers thought that the seat had to be unfolded in such a way that it roughly formed a 90-degree angle…”

This means that the testers did not read the manual properly. On page 12 of the instruction manual it cannot be clearer. The text states, “Ensure that the booster seat is laid flat” and this is clearly demonstrated with images #7 and #7a.

Failure to install the mifold seat correctly can only be because the user is attempting to use the seat without reviewing the instruction manual. If Stiftung Warentest staff are not exercising the professional level of care required to use a booster seat, they should not be testing mifold and giving such inaccurate opinions.

All manufacturers have to assume that a new user will read the instruction manual. However in addition, Carfoldio has produced and published a series of instructional videos that can be viewed from the mifold website. If a tester working for Stiftung Warentest fails to read the instruction manual, then their contribution to the research cannot be taken seriously.

Quantitative research studies conducted with more than 5,000 mifold users shows that this claimed issue of misuse has never been reported. Far from this being a “high risk” as claimed by Stiftung Warentest, there is actually zero risk if you read the manual.

Error #5: Seat belt routing

Stiftung Warentest have stated, “… fastening the seat belt is also quite fiddly”.  That’s it … what does this mean? What data substantiates this? Is “quite fiddly” a good rating compared to other products or a bad one? It clearly reads to be a negative feature, but our data would refute this with hundreds of thousands of children as young as five being able to correctly install themselves in their mifold seats on a regular basis. A reputable consumer organisation should not be writing like this, but for some reason, they are.

Error #6: Seat comfort

Stiftung Warentest have stated, “… because the Grab-and-Go is a hard pad, it is not comfortable for the child to sit on”.

One of the priorities has been to design mifold to be comfortable as well as safe, very portable, and easy to use. Research shows that more than 80% of users state that they find the mifold seat either ‘very comfortable’ or ‘comfortable’. So once again, the Stiftung Warentest results are completely at odds with actual users feedback.

The comfort comes from three design and engineering factors:

(i)         The seat includes a unique EVA DenseFoam™ (Ethylene-vinyl acetate) to provide constant support at the pressure points. EVA is typically used as a shock absorber in sports shoes and boxing gloves.

(ii)        The foam fabric pad extends to the edge of the seat to ensure there is no hard edge. And,

(iii)       The child’s weight is designed to sink the entire mifold seat into the vehicle cushion, levelling out the two surfaces and minimising the edge effect.

Error #7: Side impact protection

Stiftung Warentest have stated, “As is immediately obvious, there is no side impact protection of the child whatsoever”. Later Stiftung Warentest states even more alarmingly, “When the Grab-and-Go was tested in a side-on collision … the head of the dummy hit the window with full-impact. In real life a child would be seriously injured or even killed”.

Stiftung Warentest is confusing two different issues in a way that can only mislead and misinform readers. The test conducted by Stiftung Warentest does not reflect a real-life side impact collision:

In real life situations, padded passenger compartments and side air-bags provide excellent protection in most cars, when all classes of booster seat are used.

Also, real-life data on child injuries in actual collisions do not support the theory that backless booster seats offer any less protection.

Finally, recent studies have shown that high back booster seats can actually offer less protection to children in oblique collisions (between 30º and 80º) which are more realistic that the artificial 90º collisions conducted by Stiftung Warentest.

Therefore, contrary to the Stiftung Warentest claim, in real life, a child would be protected as if they used any other backless booster seat sold today in their millions around the world.

How does the mifold seat work to safely protect children?

The mifold Grab-and-Go booster seat is a unique, revolutionary device that provides identical protection to traditional backless belt positioning booster seats, however it works in a completely different way.

Restraining passengers in cars

Adults

Vehicle installed seat belts are designed for adults with a lap belt running across the bones of the hips and a chest strap across the clavicle bone, between the neck and the shoulder. In a collision or deceleration event, the passenger is thrown forward and the lap and chest straps of the seat belt restrain the adult, directing the force onto the hard bones.

Children

Children are generally smaller than adults and the vehicle installed seat belts to not fit correctly. The lap belts tend to ride up, off the hips onto the soft abdomen. The chest strap is too high and tends to rest on the neck or face which irritates the passenger and tends to slip off the shoulder. These problems are exacerbated when children move, which can raise the lap belt even further on the stomach and it is common to see a child place the chest strap behind the back or under the arm to stop it ‘bothering’ them. In a collision, when a small child uses an adult seat belt there are various problems.

The lap belt resting above the hip bones can cut into the abdomen causing damage to the soft, unprotected organs.

The child can slip under the lap belt (known as submarining) and collide with the vehicle interior.

The child’s upper body can accelerate forward in an uncontrolled manner, risking head collision, and

The combination of a poorly placed lap belt on the abdomen and uncontrolled movement of the upper body results in “seat belt syndrome” (causing spinal cord injuries).

Child restraints

Child restraint systems are designed specifically to protect children from injury or death during deceleration events and collisions.

Belt positioning booster seats are CRS designed for older, larger children. These children have outgrown car seats with an integrated harness, however they are still too small to use the vehicle installed seat belts.  A Belt positioning booster seat is designed to improve the fit of the lap and chest belt for children. Proper fit implies that the lap and chest belt remain in place over the bony structures of the pelvis and shoulder of the child during a collision or deceleration event.

Traditional Belt positioning booster seats

Traditional belt positioning booster seats raise the child up to put them in the position of an adult. By lifting the child, the vehicle installed seat belt is positioned correctly with the lap belt resting on the bones of the hips and the chest belt on the clavicle.  Although called belt positioning booster seats they are technically ‘Child positioning booster seats’.

mifold Belt positioning booster seats

Whereas a traditional Booster Seat or Booster Cushion has a thick cushion which lifts (boosts) a child up to be in the position of an adult so that the seat belt is positioned correctly on the bones of the hips and the shoulder. mifold is flat and properly positions the adult belts in a very different way.  Instead of lifting the child up, mifold holds the seatbelt down. mifold achieves ideal belt positioning on the hips and the shoulder and provides similar safety benefits without the need for a large, bulky seat. This allows mifold to be folded up into a compact and highly portable unit that still provides the same level of protection as a traditional booster.

The unique benefits of the mifold Grab-and-Go booster seat

mifold was invented specifically to be a safe child restraint that can be available all the time, when the main seat is not available: carpooling, taxis, rental cars, vacations, etc. We only ever market mifold for this.

The mifold Grab-and-Go booster seat has incredibly good crash test results especially in terms of head and knee excursion measurements. So, it is good and not just 'good enough'. This applies even more in view of the purpose of mifold as an occasional seat to be used when a regular seat is not available and when compared to safety data for products in the same booster seat class.

mifold is the first ultra-compact and portable device.  In a world where at least 25% of child journeys still see children traveling completely unprotected; our compact and portable device is making a significant contribution to improving child passenger safety. 

For the first time ever, the problem mifold is solving is what to do when a bulky restraint is not available. However, with mifold there is no longer any excuse, with ultra-compact and portable devices, a child can easily keep one with them all the time and drivers can keep spares, without cluttering up a car and losing cabin or luggage space.

As a company, Carfoldio have a vision: a child restraint for every child, in every car, on every journey, every time.  This led to the creation of the ultra-compact booster seat category.  Today, more than 250,000 mifold Grab-and-Go Booster Seats are being used by hundreds of thousands of children, parents and caregivers every day, worldwide.

If Stiftung Warentest cares about the protection of children in cars, it will recognise the advantage of the unique, revolutionary child restraint and will refrain from miss0informing parents about mifold. This will help make sure that every child is protected in every car on every journey every time when the main seat is not available.

The mifold Grab-and-Go booster seat is safe, compact and portable enough to be used in every car, on every journey, every time.

Learn more about the safety of mifold at www.mifold.com.
Jon Sumroy
CEO