RC2 Corp., the vendors of Thomas & Friends wooden railway toys, has recalled another 200,000 of these toys, as the surface paints on the toys can contain excessive levels of lead, violating the federal lead paint standard, according to a statement from The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
This recall by RC2 Corp., of Oak Brook, Illinois comes three months after the company recalled 1.5 million toys in the Thomas & Friends series, after finding lead paint on the surface of the products, CPSC said in July.
In both cases the toys, said to have high lead content in their paint, were made in China, adding to concerns about the safety of toys and other products made in China, including those made in China for big US brands.
Mattel Inc., another toy maker surprisingly apologized last week for damaging China’s reputation by its recall of toys made in China. 2.2 million toys were recalled over impermissible levels of lead, according to a statement issued by Mattel, though it said that its lead-related recalls were overly inclusive, including toys that may not have had lead in paint in excess of US standards.
Another 17.4 million toys from Mattel were also recalled because of loose magnets, but Mattel put it down to a flaw in its design.
This “mea culpa” by Mattel, exonerating the Chinese, seems surprising, even as companies like RC2 Corp. are still reporting high lead in the paint for their toys.
The fact remains that blue-chip American companies have been shipping products that have been hazardous for the kids who played with them. The toys covered under RC2’s recall of September 26, 2007 include stuff that was sold through toy stores and various retailers nationwide from March 2003 through September 2007 ! That means toys with lead paint were still shipped up to September 2007, even though the company found and recalled other toys with lead as way back as in June, 2007. Wasn’t RC2 supposed to check for lead the whole lot of toys it had on retail shelves ?
A recall does not absolve the companies of responsibility. They have to make sure that these incidents don’t happen again. If there is a problem with the Chinese supplier, please sort it out. If there are problems with your designs, sort that out too, and make sure your designs are foolproof.
Recalls don’t make you good corporate citizens. Prevention does, and in this regard companies were caught napping. Consumer patience may be running out.