Mattel announces third toy recall
Barbie toys make up the majority of the affected toys though no Barbie dolls were involved in the recall, the company says.
NEW YORK (CNN) -- The Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with Mattel, announced a recall of 844,000 toys that contain excessive levels of lead paint Tuesday night - the third such recall of Chinese-manufactured toys by Mattel this summer.
In a statement issued by Mattel (Charts, Fortune 500), the company apologized to consumers and said that it had spent more than 50,000 hours investigating its vendors and testing its toys. It said that 11 additional types of toys had been discovered that needed to be recalled.
"We've promised consumers that we'd tell them efficiently and openly if we found any additional affected toys, and that is what we are doing today," said Mattel.
Three Fisher-Price brand toys and various Barbie accessory toys were named in the recall, though the Barbie toys make up the majority of the affected toys. No Barbie dolls were involved in the recall, the company said.
675,000 units of various Barbie accessory toys sold between October 2006 through August 2007 were named in the recall.
Mattel also recalled 8,900 units of Big Big World 6-in-1 Bongo Band toys, sold between July 2007 through August 2007; and 90,000 units of Geo Trax Locomotive Toys, sold between September 2006 through August 2007. All of the toys were manufactured in China in 2006 and 2007.
Consumers are asked to stop using the affected toys immediately, according to the CPSC.
More recalls seen ahead
Americans should expect more Chinese-made toys to be recalled in the coming months, said the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
"If I were a betting person I'd bet on more lead paint recalls," CPSC Director of Information Julie Vallese told CNN. "It's clear that lead paint on toys is not isolated just to Mattel."
The CPSC anticipates Mattel's smaller competitors will be announcing similar recalls, as they complete thorough testing of their products.
"The CPSC has its own investigations currently underway to make sure products on shelves are meeting US safety standards," said Vallese on a conference call.
"It is fair to say that we haven't seen the last of product recalls that may be tied to a violation of the lead paint standard. This is a non-negotiable point. China needs to put plans and procedures in place so that products exported to U.S. are lead-free," she added.
Next Monday and Tuesday, the CPSC will be holding a Sino-American Safety Summit. On Monday government officials will be meeting at the CPSC in Maryland, and Tuesday at 10 am a press conference will be held at the Commerce Department's main auditorium in Washington.
The groups will mainly be discussing toys, fireworks, electrical goods and lighters, according to the CPSC.
The agency said it will be listening to Chinese officials and learning how they can support them to export the safest products possible.
Wayne Charness, Hasbro's senior VP of corporate communications, said the company had been conducting tests and had not found lead paint on any toys.
He said that paints for toys are tested and inspected during stages of production.
"Our supply chain is working quite well," he said. "We always have had strong toy safety standards, and we increased the intensity of them following the Mattel announcement."
Fines for Mattel?
Mattel said that a CPSC rule requiring companies to disclose potential hazards within 24 hours is unreasonable, according to a Wall Street Journal report Tuesday.
Violation of the statute can carry civil penalties. CPSC noted that Mattel had faced two fines over products in the past, but that there was no guarantee of a fine in this instance.
Vallese said the investigation was open, and thus the agency could not presently comment on it.
A retailer's reaction
It said it was carrying accessories from Mattel's Barbie range and two of the three Fisher Price items - Geotracks Freightway Transport and 6-in-1 Bongo Band.
The chain has asked toy suppliers to re-submit testing documents for both existing toys and those on their way to the store, so that it will have the most up-to-date information about the toys on its shelves.