We found a recalled toy in one Lubbock store and have serious questions about that. Aside from that, we've learned some NewsChannel 11 viewers are worried about toys "Made in China," are they safe?
It seems everywhere you look, a toy you pick up has this label on it; "Made in China."
"Made in China, is that a product we should avoid all together?" asked NewsChannel 11. "Well, I don't want to say as a general rule, but lately the toys that have been found with lead in them have been those from China," said South Plains Better Business Bureau Director Nan Campbell.
Lead can be toxic to kids which is why the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recalled 41 different toys this year. That's more than 28 million toys. However, Campbell says that doesn't mean all "Made in China" toys are bad.
"Just remember, the companies with the name brands use foreign employees in their manufacturing process. But they're totally regulated (by the government.)," she said.
But the CPSC says there are more dangerous reasons why toys were recalled this year; choking, burns, cuts, fires, and other serious health hazards to name a few.
"Were you concerned with the recent recalls?" asked NewsChannel 11 of a shopper. "Yes, we looked at that," she said.
NewsChannel 11 went undercover to see exactly what recalled toys were being sold, if any. Armed with a list of the 12 most recently recalled toys, we searched up and down the aisles of big toy retailers, like Wal-Mart, Toys R Us, Kay-Bee Toys, Target, Big Lots, and Dollar General.
One toy that immediately caught our eye was this Curious George doll. It was "Made in China" and was on the shelf at Toys R Us. It looks very similar to one particular plush toy recalled last month because of high levels of lead. That violates the federal lead paint standard.
But to make sure, our undercover NewsChannel 11 photographer asked a Toys R Us associate. "I know there were a couple of the Curious George dolls that were recalled, do you know if this was one of them?" All we had to do was ask and the associate checked it out for us.
"If it was (recalled,) then it wouldn't be on the shelves anymore? OK, alright," our photographer clarified with the associate. "It's good? Better though to be safe than sorry," said NewsChannel 11.
Going down our list, we checked helmets made by Bell. Earlier this month, the CPSC recalled 14 hundred helmets because of lead contamination. But come to find out, the helmets we went through at Toys R Us and Wal-Mart looked similar to the recalled product, but we found no match.
We also went inside Dollar General. Toy cars exclusively sold there were recalled last month because of lead contamination. Around 380,000 toys were supposed to be pulled off the shelf. Good news, they were. We didn't find the toys on the shelves.
But we had serious concerns about one toy made by Fisher Price, a trusted household name brand toy. The Laugh and Learn Kitchen was recalled last month due to choking hazards. We first found the toy on the shelves at Toys R Us. As we looked over the package, we noticed it had been opened before. "Yep, it's got some tape on it," said NewsChannel 11.
We found the same thing at Wal-Mart. But there, we found this hanging sign. It's an alert letting consumers know recall information on the Laugh and Learn Kitchen. The sign said it had to be posted until May 2008.
We called the toll free number on it and learned since the recall, Fisher Price fixed the faulty faucet and clock and sent it back to the stores. Fisher Price issued this statement:"
"As consumers look for the perfect toys for their children this holiday season, they can rest assured that the Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn 2-in-1 Learning Kitchen on retail shelves is safe for their children. In fact, we put a bright yellow sticker on the front of the package that reads "new improved design" to further ensure parents about the toy's safety."
We wouldn't have known what to look for if it wasn't for that sign. So why wasn't a sign posted at Toys R Us? "Does the federal government require stores to display a sign in the public's view about a recalled toy?" asked NewsChannel 11 of the CPSC. "Yes, we work directly with retailers to have an in-store signage available once recalls are announced," said Nychelle Fleming, spokeswoman for the CPSC.
We contacted Toys R Us to let them know we didn't find a posted sign on their bulletin board last Thursday. They assured us the sign is now there for consumers to see and issued this statement: "Store managers are required to display recall posters on our safety boards and audit them daily for accuracy. We also post all recall information on the "product recalls" section of the Toys R Us website."
Toys R Us says any time a toy is recalled, it is immediately pulled from the shelves and they even have a program in place where a recalled toy cannot be purchased at the cash register.
Parents who are shopping at Lubbock stores should feel good about what they buy their children. Even the government is making sure they're keeping an eye on potentially dangerous toys. Right now, Congress is reviewing new legislation, House Bill 4040, that would lower lead levels allowed on toys and mandate tough pre-testing on toys before they hit the shelves. A vote is expected later this week.
In the meantime, if you want to learn more about recalled toys before you finish up your Christmas shopping, click here.
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