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Mattel Recalls Fisher-Price Toys Made in China

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Mattel Recalls Fisher-Price Toys Made in China

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Mattel Recalls Fisher-Price Toys Made in China

Mattel Recalls Fisher-Price Toys Made in China

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Mattel's Fisher-Price brand is recalling nearly 1 million toys made by a Chinese vendor, saying they contain excessive amounts of lead in their paint. Two-thirds of the toys were stopped before they made it into stores.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

Elmo, SpongeBob, Dora the Explorer, nearly a million toys manufactured in China are being recalled because of lead paint. This is the second time this year that lead paint has shown up on toys made in China for the U.S. market. And this time, it is Fisher-Price making the recall.

Here's NPR's Adam Davidson.

ADAM DAVIDSON: Of the nearly million toys recalled, Fisher-Price says around two-thirds were caught before they left warehouses and that many others were still on store shelves. That leaves as many as a few hundred thousand unsafe toys that may have made it into U.S. homes.

David Allmark, general manager of Fisher-Price, which is owned by Mattel, says he's devastated by the recall.

Mr. DAVID ALLMARK (General Manager, Fisher-Price): We are so apologetic for this and we sincerely believe and hope that the consumer will trust us again in the future.

DAVIDSON: Fisher-Price and Mattel have been singled out for praise for their exemplary product safety system, which makes this recall all the more surprising.

Mr. ALLMARK: There are lots and lots of tests that go on with products through the process of manufacture. And in addition, the retailers also do their own tests on product as well.

DAVIDSON: But not every toy is tested.

Mr. ALLMARK: Not necessarily every toy is tested. No, that is correct.

DAVIDSON: In fact, Fisher-Price did not itself test these now recalled toys before they reached store shelves. Fisher-Price owns 11 factories in China, but these toys were made by another company on contract. David Allmark.

Mr. ALLMARK: We've worked with this vendor for 15 years, and have been a totally trustworthy vendor in the past, and we'd not have problems like anything of this nature before, which is very surprising and very disappointing, obviously.

DAVIDSON: Allmark says the vendor was responsible for all lead paint tests on these toys. He's overseeing an investigation to determine if the vendor simply made a mistake or it acted maliciously. But he acknowledges consumers don't care whether the toys were made by Fisher-Price or someone else. They bore the Fisher-Price label and the company is responsible for making sure they are safe.

Mr. ALLMARK: Well, clearly, we've let the consumer down, there is no doubt about that. And we honestly believe that our name and our reputation will prevail in this that we'll be able to restore that consumer confidence.

DAVIDSON: There have been several other major product recalls of Chinese-made goods recently, but consumers shouldn't get the wrong impression, says Ed Mierzwinski, a consumer product advocate at U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

Mr. ED MIERZWINSKI (Consumer Program Director, U.S. Public Interest Research Group): Just because the toy is made in China doesn't mean it's dangerous compared to a toy from anywhere else.

DAVIDSON: The U.S. now imports around 80 percent of all our toys from China, that's nearly 3 billion toys every year. While any lead paint on a toy is disturbing, these two recalls represent less than one-tenth of one percent of all Chinese-made imported toys.

Adam Davidson, NPR News.

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