Lead Paint Leads to Fisher-Price Toy Recall

By Anne D'Innocenzio and Natasha T. Metzler
Associated Press
Thursday, August 2, 2007

Fisher-Price is recalling 83 types of toys, including the popular Big Bird, Elmo, Dora and Diego characters, because their paint contains excessive amounts of lead.

The recall involves 967,000 plastic toys for preschool-age children, made by a Chinese vendor and sold in the United States from May to August.

It was the latest in a wave of recalls that has heightened global concern about the safety of products made in China.

David Allmark, general manager of Fisher-Price, a unit of Mattel, said the problem was detected by an internal probe and reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Fisher-Price and the CPSC issued statements saying parents should keep suspect toys away from children and contact the company.

The recall is particularly alarming because Mattel, known for its strict quality controls, is considered a role model in the toy industry for how it operates in China.

Allmark said the recall was "fast-tracked," which allowed the company to quarantine two-thirds of the toys before the products made it to store shelves. The recall was troubling, he said, because Fisher-Price has had a long-standing relationship with the Chinese vendor, which had applied decorative paint to the toys.

"We are still concluding the investigation, how it happened," Allmark said. "But there will be a dramatic investigation on how this happened. We will learn from this."

Children's products found to have more than 0.06 percent lead accessible to users are subject to a recall.

The recall was the first for Fisher-Price and Mattel involving lead paint. It is the largest recall for Mattel since 1998, when Fisher-Price had to remove about 10 million Power Wheels from toy stores.

Owners of a recalled toy can exchange it for a voucher for another product of the same value. Pictures of some of the recalled toys are at the Web site, http://www.service.mattel.com. For more information, call the Fisher-Price recall line at 800-916-4498.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company