Archive for the ‘Consumer Product Safety Commission’ Category

More China Made Products Recalled as Toxic

November 21, 2007

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Consumer Product Safety Commission issued another batch of lead paint-related recalls of Chinese-made children’s products on Wednesday, including metal jewelry sold by discount retailers Family Dollar Stores and Big Lots Inc, and school supplies.

About 205,000 units of recalled jewelry were sold at Family Dollar stores from January 2003 through August 2007 under the Rachel Rose and Distinctly Basics brands, CPSC said in a statement.

Also recalled were about 43,000 Sparkle City charm bracelets and tack pin sets sold at Big Lots stores from August 2005 through April 2007 for about $1, the agency said.

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Calif Suing Toy Companies Caught Using Lead

November 19, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – California’s attorney general has field suit against 20 companies, claiming they sold toys containing “unlawful quantities of lead.”

The suit alleges that the companies — including Mattel and Toys “R” Us — knowingly exposed children to lead and failed to provide warning of the risk.

If the suit is successful, the complaint says the companies could pay a $2,500 fine for each violation.

The move follows major recalls of toys, lunch boxes, children’s jewelry and other goods during the last year by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in Washington.

The suit also names Wal-Mart, Target, Sears, KB Toys, Costco Wholesale and others as defendants.

A Mattel spokeswoman says the company had been expecting the action, and that it has already implemented a system of checks to make sure its quality and safety standards aren’t violated again.

The toys were made in China but the suit will apparently aledge that the toy companies and toy sellers were aware or should have been aware of Chinese business practices that did not measure up to U.S. standards.

Feds urge vigilance on toy safety

China’s Effort to Resolve Food, Product Safety is Questionable

November 2, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
October 2, 2007

As November dawned, China said it needed to tackle the year-long food and product safety scandals as it tackled the SARS outbreak more than four years ago. That reponse, for as many as nine months, was a total disaster.

SARS is a deadly viral infection know by its full name as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

Reuters filed this report on November 2, 2007, from China:

“Vice Premier Wu Yi — who is leading China’s effort to stamp out tainted, toxic and dangerous food and exports after a damaging torrent of scares — said lack of information at the village level and poor enforcement of laws were big challenges.”

She was quoted as saying:

“Looking back at the last two months of work, it can be said that progress has not been insignificant, results have been obvious — and this has not come easily.  But there are still many weak links and our task is increasingly hard.”

“Everywhere must engage in propaganda, just like that promoting patriotism, public health and family planning, pushing safety knowledge on farm product quality and safety on a grand scale.”

“Agricultural departments must arrange special budgets, as during the SARS outbreak, to print propaganda posters and illustrated booklets, putting them into the hands of every farmer, and sending them to every rural school,” she added.

Well, we ask China: “Do you think we are asleep, stupid or uncaring?”

China’s reaction to the SARS outbreak was a DISASTER.

The below essay is republished here as a reminder and a cautionary alert:

China’s Ham-Handed SARS Response
Omen in the Future of Disease Control?
By John E. Carey
The Washington Times
First Published
Sunday, May 4, 2003. Page B5

The U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention now says the deadly viral infection Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is under control and abating in Singapore, Vietnam, and Toronto.

China continues to experience an increase in SARS cases.

The source of the outbreak, or at least the first place it was diagnosed: Guangdong Province, China. Guangdong is the province surrounding Hong Kong. It is the most densely packed province in China and people there tend to live right on top of their farm animals.

In Hong Kong, for example, when you go to buy a chicken, a duck, or a pig for the family dinner, you get a live animal and it comes from a cage filled with 20 or 30 other animals. You can imagine the sanitation in this situation leaves a lot to be desired.

Some doctors are now thinking the first signs of SARS developed in the farm animals and then spread to the people. Ducks are known to routinely produce strange new viral infections that don’t harm the ducks but spread with devastating affect to chickens and pigs.

The virus then mutates and spreads to humans.

China has a population of about 1.3-1.4 billion people. That’s about 22% of the world’s population.

The population of the U.S. is between 300-350 Million.

Some doctors are saying the mortality rate for SARS is 5-6%. If that is true you could have 15-21 million human deaths in America, worst case – if the disease spread out of control and prevention measures failed.

That is why we all have to be aware.

Causing fear and anxiety is not the reason we mention these numbers. The point is: SARS may be the tip of a new communicable disease iceberg in the twenty-first century. As the world becomes more crowded and mobile, our ability to quarantine a disease like SARS early enough to prevent widespread outbreaks is decreasing.

China is a particularly dangerous nation when envisioning the future of viral infections. It seems as if the Chinese were very slow to react once people started to get sick and die of SARS. It might have taken the Chinese government two months to even admit that there was a problem.

The disease spread to Beijing and Shanghai. Government officials basically fired the mayor of Beijing and his health minister for their apparent cover-up of the extent and importance of the disease.

In Chagugang town, up to 2000 villagers torched a school earmarked as a SARS quarantine center. The villagers didn’t want the SARS infected in their neighborhood.

We also learned that China lacks sufficient medications, medical staff and hospital facilities to properly service their own population.

The World Health Organization estimated that only about 4% of China’s medical professions were prepared for a disease like SARS.

SARS deaths are still on the rise in China even though they have stabilized or fallen in Singapore, Vietnam and elsewhere.

China has not had a methodical, rigid, disciplined approach to solving this problem. China produced lots of furious activity but much of it ineffective and only for show.

Big headlines boasted that all movie theaters, internet café’s, etc. were closed. But if you really wanted to look around and find an internet café open for business you could. As you enter, they wash your hands with disinfectant and give you a face mask. These are questionable prevention techniques at best.

Isolation by quarantine has proven to be the most effective prevention and control method.

My colleague in China e-mailed me from an internet café in Beijing right after every newspaper there claimed that the cafes were closed. Once you get out of Beijing – and the further you get from Beijing – the interest in SARS avoidance and precautions remains low if it exists at all.

Another problem is at play here. People who think they are sick, people who think they could have SARS in China, are reluctant to turn themselves in. They fear the government more than the disease.

My colleague in China started a trip from down near Hong Kong at the beginning of April, and traveled through Beijing and into northern China (Jilin Province). The only place SARS awareness existed was in Beijing. There was virtually no SARS awareness or prevention along this 1,300 mile trek through China except in Beijing. And the Beijing SARS prevention effort was almost entirely for show, aimed at news and cameramen, with little measurable or proven effectiveness.

The Chinese government appreciates media manipulation and SARS caused the “spin machine” to go into overdrive.

So before SARS gets too far or we discover a new deadly disease, here are a few things we need to remember about China in the twenty-first century:

*There is no effective, centrally managed organization like the Centers for Disease Control in China.

*The Chinese government has a track record of covering up bad news like the outbreak of an infectious disease.

*China is a densely populated nation with cultural and sanitation standards and methods more than a century behind that of the western world.

*Many citizens of China fear their oppressive government and have a tendency to keep problems to themselves.

*China tends to “fake” efficiency and effectiveness in a lame attempt to manipulate the media.

Before the outbreak of the next vicious, deadly disease, we need to discuss these problems with China.

US lawmakers seek stiffer regulation of made-in-China toys; more recalls announced

November 1, 2007

by P. Parameswaran

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US legislators unveiled plans Tuesday for stiffer laws to regulate made-in-China toys after Halloween “treat” buckets and costume teeth became the latest tainted products from the Asian nation to be taken off American store shelves.

The Democratic-controlled Congress expects to introduce a wide-ranging toy and child product safety legislation in the “next few days,” said Bobby Rush, the head
of a House of Representatives panel on commerce, trade and consumer protection.

“We are in intense negotiations as we speak” to forge the Comprehensive Consumer Product Safety Bill, he told a news conference at Capitol Hill, where tainted China-made toys recalled in the run up to Halloween were prominently displayed.

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More China-Made Toys Recalled

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31 (UPI) — The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the recall of Chinese-made Elite Operations Toys sold by Toys “R” Us because of high levels of lead.

About 16,000 sets of the toys were sold by Toys “R” Us or nationwide. Toys “R” Us initiated the recall when it learned the paint on the toys contained excessive levels of lead, in violation of the federal lead paint standard.

Four recalled military-style Elite Operations toys — manufactured by the Toy World Group Ltd.’s Chun Tat Toys Factory in Guangdong, China — were Super Rigs (product #1004), Command Patrol Center (#1020), Barracuda Helicopter (#1023), and 3 Pack, 8-inch Figures (#1024). The product number is located on the toy’s packaging.

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United States firms recall over 90,000 Taiwan, Vietnam-made toys

October 13, 2007

Saturday, October 13, 2007
By Natasha T. Metzler, AP

WASHINGTON — More than 90,000 children’s products, most imported by J.C. Penney Co. Inc., are being recalled for containing dangerous levels of lead, a government safety group announced.

J.C. Penney recalled Chinese-made Winnie the Pooh play sets and decorative ornaments with a horse theme, as well as art kits made in Taiwan and Vietnam. Totaling 70,400, the toys imported and sold by J.C. Penney all had excessive levels of lead in their surface paint.

Lead is toxic if ingested by young children. Under current regulations, children’s products found to have more than 0.06 percent lead accessible to users are subject to recall.

Consumer Product Safety Commission spokeswoman Julie Vallese said this round of toy recalls is “the direct result of the commitment that was made earlier this summer of cleaning the proverbial house.”

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Lead Paint Danger in China Toys Worse Than First Thought

September 20, 2007


Lead Paint Danger in Toys Worse Than First Thought Leaders of the agency responsible for protecting consumers from faulty products pleaded Wednesday with Congress to increase their budget and authority in the wake of huge recalls related to lead contamination.The testimony from Consumer Product Safety Commission officials came as El Segundo, Calif.-based Mattel Inc., producer of 1.5 million of the 13.2 million toys recalled in the past month, revealed that its tests found that lead levels in paint in recalled toys were as high as 110,000 parts per million, or nearly 200 times higher than the accepted safety ceiling of 600 parts per million.“We are all to blame” for a system that allowed children to be exposed to lead-tainted toys, CPSC Commissioner Thomas H. Moore said in the first of two days of hearings before a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee. That includes, he said, “those who stood by and quietly acquiesced while the commission was being reduced to a weakened regulator.”Moore thanked lawmakers for rejecting a Bush administration budget proposal that would have required cutting full-time staff by 19 people, and urged Congress to pass legislation to give the agency better tools to protect consumers from product safety hazards.“Our small agency has been ignored by the Congress and the public for way too long,” said the CPSC’s acting chairman, Nancy A. Nord.

The agency was founded in 1973 with a staff of about 800. It currently employs about half that number, and Moore said it has about 15 people, out of a total field investigative staff of fewer than 90, to visit ports of entry to inspect the more than 15,000 product types under its jurisdiction.

The commission banned lead paint on toys and children’s furniture in 1978, but is not authorized under law to regulate lead in a product unless it may cause “substantial personal injury.” When ingested by children, lead can cause learning disabilities and behavioral problems.

Nord noted that the recalls, mainly of toys manufactured in China, have had the intended purpose of goading the entire toy industry into changing practices to prevent such violations in the future. It has also inspired the introduction of several bills to increase the authority and budget of the CPSC and better monitor imports from China.

“We must start with the CPSC,” said Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., chairman of the subcommittee overseeing consumer protection. “Is the commission capable of preventing these products from entering state commerce?”

Nord and Moore also pointed to an agreement reached with the agency’s Chinese counterpart last week under which China will immediately implement a plan to eliminate the use of lead paint on Chinese manufactured toys exported to the United States.

Mattel Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Robert A. Eckert, in prepared testimony, stressed the safety of the 800 million products the toy maker and its vendors manufacture every year. He also acknowledged that the company’s investigation revealed “that a few vendors, either deliberately or out of carelessness, circumvented our long-established safety standards and procedures.”

“These recent lead recalls have been a personal disappointment to me” and those working at Mattel, he said. “Those events have also called on us to act, and we have.”

But several members of the panel complained that Mattel blocked committee staff members from visiting its plants in China and talking to the Hong Kong executives who oversee those plants. “That’s a poor kind of cooperation to be afforded this committee and it will hardly be helpful in our relationship with the company,” said committee Chairman John Dingell, D-Mich.

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