For the second time in a month, U.S. toy maker Mattel, Inc. is recalling millions of Chinese-made toys because they contain lead paint or small magnets that can be swallowed by children.
Mattel today recalled 9.5 million magnetic toys in the United States --18.2 million worldwide -- and more than two-hundred thousand die-cast toys. Some of the magnetic toys included in today’s massive recall include Polly Pockets play sets and Batman™ action figures.
The action comes less than two weeks after the toy giant recalled nearly one million Sesame Street, Dora the Explorer, and other toys made in China that contained lead paint.
The United States banned the use of lead paint in toys nearly 30 years ago because it’s toxic if ingested by young children.
This is also the latest in a string of recalls involving tainted or defective Chinese-made products, including tires, toothpaste, seafood and ingredients used to make pet food.
An investigation by ConsumerAffairs.com earlier this summer also revealed that 96 percent of all toys recalled during the first part of the year were made in China.
The toys included in today’s recall are:
• About 253,000 die-cast “Sarge” toys from the CARS vehicle line that contain lead paint. These are 2 ½ inch toy vehicles that look like military jeeps. They were sold individually or in sets of two at retailers nationwide from May 2007 through August 2007. Mattel said it has not received any reports of injuries associated with the toys;
• About 7.3 million Polly Pocket play sets sold nationwide from May 2003 through November 2006. These sets have small magnets inside the dolls and accessories the can come loose and choke young children. Mattel recalled about 2.4 million of these play sets on November 21, 2006. Since that time, the company has received more than 400 reports of magnets in the toys coming loose. It also received three reports of serious injuries involving children who swallowed more than one magnet. All three children suffered intestinal injuries that required surgery;
• About one million Doggie Day Care play sets. These play sets have small magnets inside the toys that can fall out and pose a choking hazard to children. The recalled play sets include: Doggie Day Care Coco, Doggie Day Care Crockett and Baby, and Doggie Day Care Ice Cream with Ranger. They were sold nationwide from July 2004 through August 2007. Mattel has received two reports of magnets coming loose, but no injuries have been reported;
• About 683,000 Barbie and Tanner play sets. These plays set have a small magnet inside the “scooper” accessory that can come loose and choke a child. Mattel has received three reports of magnets coming loose, but no injuries have been reported. The recalled play sets are model numbers J9472 and J9560 and were sold nationwide from May 2006 through August 2007;
• About 345,000 Batman™ and One Piece magnetic action figure sets sold nationwide from June 2006 through June 2007. The action figures have magnets inside the accessories that can fall out and be swallowed by a child. The recalled toys include: The Batman™ Magna Battle Armor™ Batman™ figure with model number J1944; The Batman™ Secret ID™ figure with model number J5114, and One Piece™ Triple Slash Zolo Roronoa™ figure with model number J4142. Mattel has received 21 reports of magnets falling out of the toy figures. There are no reports of injuries associated with these toys.
Mattel’s Chairman and Chief Executive Office apologized to parents.
"The safety of children is our primary concern, and we are deeply apologetic to everyone affected," Robert A. Eckert said in a written statement. "Mattel has rigorous procedures, and we will continue to be vigilant and unforgiving in enforcing quality and safety.
"We don't want to have recalls, but we don't hesitate to take quick and effective action to correct issues as soon as we've identified them to ensure the safety of our products and the safety of children," he said.
The company said it discovered the lead paint in the “Sarge” vehicles during an ongoing investigation that followed its recall earlier this month.
Mattel learned the Chinese company that made the die-cast toy -- Early Light Industrial Co., LTD, (Early Light) -- subcontracted the painting to another Chinese vendor. That company, Hong Li Da (HLD), used paint supplied from an unauthorized third-party supplier instead of the products supplied by Early Light.
Mattel said it’s taken steps to prevent that from happening again.
"We have immediately implemented a strengthened three-point check system,” Jim Walter, senior vice president of Worldwide Quality Assurance for Mattel, said in a written statement. “First, we're requiring that only paint from certified suppliers be used and requiring every single batch of paint at every single vendor to be tested. If it doesn't pass, it doesn't get used.
"Second, we are tightening controls throughout the production process at vendor facilities and increasing unannounced random inspections. Third, we're testing every production run of finished toys to ensure compliance before they reach our customers."
He added: “We've met with vendors to ensure they understand our tightened procedures and our absolute requirement of strict adherence to them.”
Mattel said the company has stopped selling the recalled products, told its retailers to pull them from the shelves, and made a production change.
The company said parents should immediately take the recalled toys away from their children and call its toll-free number for a free replacement product. That number is (888) 597-6597.
A complete list of the recalled toys is posted on Mattel’s Web site www.mattel.com or the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Web site: www.cpsc.gov.