Mattel Toy Recall Expanded A Third Time to Include Barbie, Other Toys Made With Toxic Lead PaintSep 5, 2007 | Parker Waichman LLP, LLP
Mattel has announced another toy recall, sending already worried parents on yet another scavenger hunt for more hazardous toys. Last night, the company revealed that it had discovered that another 840,000 of its Chinese-made toys contained excessive amounts of lead. This latest toy recall includes three different toys made by Mattel’s Fisher-Price Unit, and eight from its extremely popular Barbie line. This is the third toy recall that Mattel has issued in five weeks.
Mattel said that all of the recalled toys were made at different Chinese factories. Mattel recently discovered that the factories had used uncertified paint that contained high levels of lead on the toys. Mattel’s agreements with overseas contractors stipulate that the factories procure paint only from Mattel-certified suppliers. However, it seems that Mattel’s paint specifications are often ignored by the Chinese contractors. On August 1, Fisher-Price recalled 1.5 million Chinese-made infant and preschool toys due to a lead paint hazard. Two weeks later, Mattel issued another massive recall for 19 million toys, 400,000 of which were recalled for unsafe lead levels. Mattel said that the Chinese factories responsible for those toxic toys had also used uncertified paint. When Mattel issued the second round of recalls, Chief Executive Robert Eckert had said that the company could not guarantee that the August 15 action would be the last. Sadly, it seems that this statement was prophetic.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), more than 500,000 of the recalled Mattel toys were shipped to stores in the U.S. starting in August 2006. The recalled toys included 90,000 Geo Trax Special Track Pack and Geo Trax Freightway Transport locomotive toys manufactured between July 31, 2006 and August 20, 2006. Fisher-Price is also recalling 8,900 Big Big World 6-in-1 Bongo Band toys. These toys were sold nationwide between July and August 2007.
But by far, the largest component of this week’s Mattel toy recall includes 675,000 Barbie accessory sets. Barbie is Mattel’s largest and best known brand. These recalled toys include the Barbie Dream Puppy House Play Set; Barbie Kitty Condo Play Set; Barbie Table and Chairs Kitchen Play Set; Barbie Bathtub and Toilet Play Set; Barbie Futon and Table Living Room Play Set; Barbie Desk and Chair Bedroom Play Set; and Barbie Couch and Table Living Room Play Set. All of the accessory sets were sold at retail stores between October 2006 and August 2007. No actual Barbie dolls are included in the recall.
Though the Mattel recalls have garnered the company much notoriety in the past month, Mattel is not the only company that has had problems with Chinese-made toys. In June, RC2 recalled 1.5 million Thomas & Friends toy train sets because of excessive lead. And two weeks ago, several companies recalled a total of 340,000 imported Spongebob Squarepants and Curious George toys for the same reason. China produces 80-percent of the toys made in the US, and most experts do not believe that the toy recalls will end with Mattel’s. With the holiday shopping season fast approaching, that is not news any parent will find comforting.