Toy Recalls

The third recall of Mattel toys made in China was issued in early September. The 800,000 toys included Barbie accessory sets, Geo Trax locomotive toys, and Bongo Band toys. The first two recalls of Mattel toys made in China were issued in August in a joint effort with the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC). These massive toy recalls were issued after excessive amounts of lead were found in the paint.

The ingestion of lead paint by children can cause brain damage, behavioral problems, neurological changes, and death.

Many Types of Toys and Children’s Products

Other children’s products that were recalled because of unsafe levels of lead paint include Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway toys, SpongeBob SquarePants address books and journals made in China, “Divine Inspiration” charm bracelets, and children’s metal jewelry made by TOBY N.Y.C.

Dwindling Trust in the Safety of China-made Toys

About 80 percent of the toys available in the United States and around the world are manufactured in China. American consumers’ growing loss of trust in products made in China is due to the repeated recalls of toys, tires, food products, toothpaste, jewelry, and more made in Chinese factories with inadequate safety standards and a business climate known for its corruption.

U.S. Government Oversight of Imports

Concern among the public and lawmakers in Washington about the quality of products imported from China has prompted the commission of a presidential panel charged with designing a better consumer-protection system.

Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) recently stated, “It’s clear that our consumer product safety net has a hole in it the size of China…while these recalls are an important step to pull thousands of unsafe toys from the shelves, I remain concerned that many more harmful children’s products may be proliferating in the marketplace without parents knowing the dangers.”

The CPSC Is Struggling

The regulatory powers and effectiveness of the CPSC have also been questioned. Critics charge that the Bush administration has been more concerned with loosening regulations in order to please corporate interests than in protecting consumers—the CPSC has less funding and staff than ever before, and it struggles to meet its obligations.

The agency’s budget is tiny compared to that of the Food and Drug Administration, for example. Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said recently, “The only thing more frightening than these tainted toys from China falling into the hands of children is how powerless the very agency in charge of consumer protection is to stop it.”

Strengthening Testing of Imports

Legislation to strengthen the testing of imported goods will be presented soon in Congress, and Chinese officials have pledged to improve the governmental inspections and oversight of the products they export, but American consumers are right to be wary of the quality of all that is “Made in China.”

Contact a Product Liability Attorney

If your child or other family member has been harmed by a defective product, monetary compensation for medical bills and other losses may be appropriate. Contact a product liability lawyer in your area today to discuss your concerns.