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Toys "R" Us Recalls WoodenColoring Sets for Lead Dangers

Posted Sep 11 2008 5:53pm

Coloring_caseslat_083107_2 A few years ago, my wife and I were at an arts and crafts store looking for stickers for Seth. We planned to use them for potty training.

Somewhere along the line, I walked up to my wife with an enormous wood-filled box of coloring pencils and crayons that were on sale. They seemed so cool, but we both agreed that Seth was too young at the time.

So when I saw the latest lead-triggered recall picture – I don’t know why the CPSC put up such fuzzy images so I borrowed the one above from the Los Angeles Times – I let out a gasp. It wasn’t the same set, but it sure could have been.

This Chinese-made Imaginarium set was sold by a different store during a different time frame: Toys “R” Us from October 2006 to August 2007. As in the same month I’m posting this.

Lead was found in the printed ink of the outer packaging, the wooden case and the black watercolor paint. Apparently, the lead in this toy was possibly high enough “to permanently disable a kid,” reports David Lazarus, a consumer reporter for the Los Angeles Times.

Lazarus sounds pretty pissed about the whole thing:

What’s not fine is that the coloring sets were for sale for nearly a year – starting in October – before anyone noticed that they’re dangerous. What’s also not fine is that once again consumers have had to rely on the honor system for a company to pull a potentially harmful product from the market.

And what’s really not fine is that China is proving to be a decidedly unreliable partner in the shadowy world of outsourced manufacturing by U.S. companies. Other recent recalls and alerts involving Chinese-made products have included toothpaste, pet food and baby bibs.

Lazarus is equally pissed that the CPSC took almost three weeks to warn parents of the dangers. “Twenty days is a fairly short time for the agency,” Julie Vallese, a spokeswoman for the commission tells the reporter. “There are a number of things that must be identified and put in place before a recall is announced.”

Yeah, right. Like giving the offending company time to implement damage control. Like letting parents buy the sets through the peak of the back-to-school season and right before a long holiday when no one reads the news.

The whole thing just reaffirms what we already know that the CPSC should be called: The Corporate-Protecting Shill Commission.

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