How safe are your children’s favorite toys? Not as safe as you might think. Mattel, a major producer of children’s toys, in conjunction with the U.S. Consumer Safety Commission placed a recall on August 2, 2007 on eighty-three (83) of its products, resulting in the pulling of a total of 967,000 toys. These products are Sesame Street, Dora the Explorer and Diego themed. The recall is due to the contract manufacturing of these toys in China, where a non-approved paint pigment containing lead was used. Although Mattel quickly ended production of the toys, and managed to pull many of these products from the shelves there is an estimated number of 300,000 toys unaccounted for.
Mattel states that it considers the use of lead based paint to be a “serious mistake,” and is conducting an investigation into how the “mistake” occurred*. Contract manufacturers are required to use paint from pre-approved and certified suppliers. In this particular case the procedures required of the contracted manufacturer were not followed. This particular contract manufacturer had a long standing relationship with Mattel and should have been aware of their regulations and procedures. Mattel has several procedures and regulations in place in an effort to create safe products, including independent audits of facilities as well as ownership of several of the factories in Chine. In the event that the investigation reveals that safety measures were knowingly ignored Mattel states that it will take “immediate and appropriate action.
Lead based paint has been proven to cause severe health problems for children and adults alike. The majority of cases involving injury or death are to do lead based paints in older homes. However, the most common way for children to have been exposed to the risk of lead poisoning is through “mouthing” their toys. Almost all children have to taste their toys at some point in time – it’s part of their exploration.
The products being recalled were Fisher Price products and sets sold between April and August 2007. A complete list of the products being recalled is available at http://service.mattel.com/us. Then choose recall information, for a complete listing which includes the name, product number and a picture of the toys in question. Mattel may also be contacted at 1-800-916-4498 twenty-hours a day.
The toys listed should be immediately taken away from a child. You may contact Fisher Price directly to arrange for the return of the toy to the manufacturer as well as to receive a voucher for a replacement toy of your choosing up to the retail cost of the product being returned.
Mattel has had two other recalls this year. In May 2007 they recalled the Rainforest Open Take a long Swing due to an entrapment hazard and reports of 60 infants being injured. In February 2007 it recalled the Laugh and Learn Bunny due to the pom pom nose representing a choking hazard. This is the largest toy recall for Mattel since 1998 when Fisher Price has to pull approximately 10 million Power Wheels from stores.
This case has brought to the forefront major concerns about imports from China. Recently products imported from China have resulted in poisonous pet food, dangerous tires and lead paint used on other popular toys like Thomas and Friends. Earlier this summer RC2 had to recall 1.5 million trains and accessories due to lead paint contamination.
Be sure to pass this information on to your friends and family as well as daycare providers.