Mattel allowed to test its own toys for safety
WASHINGTON - Toy makers, clothing manufacturers, and other companies selling products for young children are submitting samples to independent laboratories for safety tests. But the nation’s largest toy maker, Mattel Inc., is not being required to do the same.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission recently, and quietly, granted Mattel’s request to use its own labs for testing that is required under a law Congress passed last summer after a rash of recalls of toys contaminated by lead. Six of those toys were produced by Mattel and a subsidiary, Fisher-Price.
The new law sets strict limits for lead, lead paint, and chemicals known as phthalates.
It mandates third-party testing for companies, big and small, that make products for children 12 and younger.
“It’s really ironic that the company that was a principal source of the problem’’ is now getting favorable treatment from the government, said Michael Green, executive director of the Center for Environmental Health in Oakland, Calif.
Mattel is getting a competitive advantage, Green said, because smaller companies must pay independent labs to do the tests. Testing costs can run from several hundred dollars to many thousands, depending on the test and the toy or product.
Mattel says it demonstrated to the federal commission that its products go through rigorous safety tests. Spokeswoman Lisa Marie Bongiovanni also said Mattel qualified for an exemption in the law by having a “firewall’’ in place to ensure test results are protected from corporate influence.