|Toys being recalled include products in the popular Dora and Diego line. (Kevin Wolf/Associated Press)|
Fisher-Price recalls toys with lead paint
WASHINGTON -- Toy maker Fisher-Price is recalling 83 types of toys -- including the popular Big Bird, Elmo, Dora, and Diego characters -- because their paint contains excessive amounts of lead.
The worldwide recall involves 967,000 plastic preschool toys made by a Chinese vendor and sold in the United States between May and August. It is the latest in a wave of recalls that has heightened global concern about the safety of Chinese-made products.
The recall is the first for Fisher-Price Inc. and parent company Mattel Inc. involving lead paint. It is the largest for Mattel since 1998, when Fisher-Price had to yank about 10 million Power Wheels from toy stores.
In an interview with the Associated Press yesterday, David Allmark, general manager of Fisher-Price, said the problem was detected by an internal probe and reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The recall is particularly alarming since Mattel, known for its strict quality controls, is considered a role model in the toy industry for how it operates in China.
The commission works with companies to issue recalls when it finds consumer goods that can be harmful. Under current regulations, children's products found to have more than 0.06 percent lead accessible to users are subject to a recall.
Allmark says the recall was "fast-tracked," which allowed the company to quarantine two-thirds of the toys before they even made it to store shelves. In negotiating details of the recall, Fisher-Price and the government sought to withhold details from the public until today to give stores time to get suspect toys off shelves and Fisher-Price time to get its recall hot line up and running. However, some news organizations prematurely posted an embargoed version of the story online.
Allmark said the recall was troubling because Fisher-Price has had a long-standing relationship with the Chinese vendor, which had applied decorative paint to the toys. Allmark said the company would use this recall as an opportunity to put even better systems in place to monitor vendors whose conduct does not meet Mattel's standards.
He added: "We are still concluding the investigation, how it happened. . . . But there will be a dramatic investigation on how this happened. We will learn from this."