Fisher-Price Recall Factory in China BannedAug 10, 2007 | Parker Waichman LLP, LLP
The Chinese government will no longer allow the factory that manufactured recalled Fisher-Price Toys to export any more products until it improves its quality standards. The factory was one of two that the Chinese General Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine banned from exporting goods in a crackdown meant to bolster confidence in the “Made in China” label. In recent months, a number of Chinese products have been recalled in the U.S. for dangerous defects.
The Lee Der Industrial Co. Ltd was responsible for more than one million toys that Fisher-Price recalled last week. That recall covered more than 80 varieties of Fisher-Price toys, including some based on popular TV characters like Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob SquarePants. Fisher-Price discovered in early July that the factory had used lead paint on the toys. Mattel, the parent company of Fisher-Price, maintains that its contract with Lee Der specified that only paints produced by Mattel-certified manufacturers could be used on the toys. For some reason, the factory failed to comply with this provision.
China also banned exports from the Hansheng Wood Products factory. That factory made 1.5 million Thomas the Tank Engine toys for the RC2 Corporation that were recalled earlier this year. Like the Fisher-Price toys, those items also were contaminated with lead. The agency did not say how long the ban might last, but on its website, it said that it had asked the factories to evaluate and change their business practices. The Chinese said that the police were investigating both factories for the use of a “fake plastic pigment”. The Chinese administration also warned other manufacturers that their products will be banned for export if they do not meet overseas safety standards. Last month, the same Chinese agency revoked the business licenses of two other factories that had made a melamine-laced pet food ingredient that was linked to the deaths of several animals in the U.S.
But the Chinese are still not taking all of the blame for the recent recall debacles. On its website, the administration said that foreign companies that do business with Chinese factories should take more responsibility. “To prevent loopholes in quality control, overseas brand owners should improve their product design and supervision of product quality,” the administration’s statement read.
All of these efforts are part of an attempt by the Chinese government to restore confidence in its exports. In the past month alone, toothpaste, tires, ginger and seafood from China were found to be dangerously defective and recalled. When the rash of recalls started earlier this year, the Chinese tried to downplay the concerns. But with exports to the U.S. worth billions to the Chinese economy, the government is starting to take a tougher stance. The Chinese are also anxious to clean up the country’s image ahead of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. The crackdown has included new safety legislation, as well as the arrests of individuals implicated in some of the contamination incidents.