Thursday, August 2

Chinese Toys and Lead

I had written in June about my concerns about "Chinese Food and Lead". This was written during a time when a number of problems were becoming known about some Chinese products. While there were no lead scares at the time, it just reinforced my concern that we would be hearing about lead in Chinese food eventually.

Now there is a lead scare, but the lead was not found in food, it has been found in children's toys.

Mattel, the maker of Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels cars, is recalling nearly one million toys in the United States today because the products are covered in lead paint. - NY Times

This recall includes Fisher-Price toys, which in general are well made, even those made in China. However, this does confirm what I had discussed in my posts about Juicy Juice sourcing apples from China; That even a high degree of supervision and control is no guarantee against making products that are defective and even dangerous. That is exactly what happened here:

“This is a vendor plant with whom we’ve worked for 15 years; this isn’t somebody that just started making toys for us,” Robert A. Eckert, the chief executive of Mattel, said in an interview. “They understand our regulations, they understand our program, and something went wrong. That hurts.”

Mattel requires the factories it contracts with to use paint and other materials provided by certified suppliers. Mattel executives said they did not know if the contract manufacturer substituted paint from a noncertified supplier or if a certified supplier caused the problem. - NY Times

I bet it hurts. This problem does not effect all Fisher-Price products, but you can bet that all of them will suffer lost sales, even more so with businesses trying to downplay the issue of where products come from. By doing that, many people don't bother to look where a product is made. They will simply avoid all of them made by a manufacturer with a problem.

Why is it that there is lead paint in China? Didn't the US get rid of it 30 years ago? Didn't China get the message?

Since it is around, why aren't the factories more concerned about what they place on children's toys? Is it just a case of country-wide ignorance? (Recently, Thomas the Train trains were recalled for being covered in paint containing lead) I bet nothing is being done to check the employees in China for lead poisoning? Were they even told of the risks once it was known what they were dealing with? I doubt it. Telling them kind of defeats the economic reasons for operating in China. But then again, so does painting your product in lead.

Here is the list of products. Do check it if you have bought any child toys recently. I had one of these items in my hand last weekend, debating whether to buy it. (I didn't.)

Oh, look who has a fact sheet on what you need to know about lead poisoning, the US. Here is the EPA page containing information sheets on lead. Click the image below for a Chinese language PDF factsheet. If you know anyone in China, be sure to send it to them. You can bet that the country is probably covered in it.


Chinese Food and Lead - 8 June 2007

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