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Zhu Zhu Pets Get OK From CPSC

Dec 8, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP

Yesterday we wrote about a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) investigation into Zhu Zhu Pets toys that might have contained a higher than permissible level of antimony, a heavy metal known to sicken children if injected, according to NBC News.

According to a report just out by the Associated Press (AP), the toys, which the AP described as “one of the holiday season’s hottest toy crazes” are not in violation of current standards according to the agency. The CPSC told the AP that although it did not test the Zhu Zhu Pets toys, the toy “is not out of compliance” with the recently enacted Consumer Protection Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA).

The TimesOnline described the toy—which is being rationed due to its intense popularity this season—as a “battery-powered robotic” hamster, one of four such toys. The toys is described, said the TimesOnline as: “Mr. Squiggles is a true Hamster ‘Prankster.”

This weekend, GoodGuide, a consumer group out of California, discussed the presence of antimony in the toy hamster named Mr. Squiggles, said the AP. The group claimed its testing found the dangerous heavy metal on the toys fur and nose and said the levels were in violation of the CPSIA mandates, said the AP.

Antimony is used to prevent textiles and plastics from catching fire and when one is exposed over a period of time, can suffer adverse reactions, including cancer, to the lung and heart, as well as diarrhea and ulcers, said MSNBC, previously. To be discovered in a popular children’s toy is worrisome, especially given that we are in the midst of the popular holiday shopping season. If eaten, antimony can cause vomiting and if inhaled, heart and long issues, added the AP.

Yesterday, GoodGuide stated that it received its testing results by using a gun that aims X-rays and provides a reading of heavy metals present in the object, such as antimony, lead, and other substances, said the AP. According to the CPSC, this type of testing is not a recognized method at the agency.

The CPSC tests toys by determining how much of a heavy metal would escape from a toy if that toy is sucked or swallowed, and does not look at potential toxins in a toy, explained the AP. “While we accurately reported the chemical levels in the toys that we measured using our testing method, we should not have compared our results to federal standards,” GoodGuide said in a written release. “We regret this error,” quoted the AP.

Of note, pointed out the AP, the CPSC did not test the toy, but did examine the toy for painted surfaces. Since the toy does not have painted surfaces, it is not subject to the CPSIA’s heavy metal testing mandates, said Gib Mullan, the CPSC’s director of compliance and field operations, the AP added.

That same day, the agency advised the AP it found the toy does not pose a threat. The CPSC said its decision was based on the findings of independent tested conducted by Cepia LLC (St. Louis), the toys’ maker. The toy sells for about $10. “CPSC confirmed today that the popular Zhu Zhu toy is not out of compliance with the antimony or other heavy metal limits of the new U.S. mandatory toy standard,” said Scott Wolfson, a CPSC spokesman.


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