U.S. safety officials have voluntarily recalled about 4.2 million Chinese-made Aqua Dots toys contaminated with a powerful “date rape” drug that has caused some children to vomit and lose consciousness upon ingesting the contents, according to this report by CNN.
The current recall of toys announced by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is the latest of many recalls of toys made in China, including by leading brands Mattel Inc. and RC2 Corp. In most of these cases the toys had lead in their paint that was far beyond permissible levels.
As holiday buying gets closer, it will appear that more toys made in China will get into markets around the world. However both big brand toy makers and local Chinese makers seem to be taking the consumer for granted.
The callous pattern is that CPSC issues a recall advisory, and it is back to business-as-usual it seems for the companies that sold the toys. The toy makers are playing with children’s lives, and what is required from them is not recalls and refunds, but proactive action that does not expose children to these toxic toys.
The Aqua Dots toys toy contains a chemical that, once metabolized, converts into the toxic “date rape” drug GHB (gamma-hydroxy butyrate), accroding to CSPC.”Children who swallow the beads can become comatose, develop respiratory depression or have seizures,” a CPSC statement warned.
Unfortunately there aren’t a lot of toys these days that aren’t made in China. The rush to China by multinational toy makers and the emergence of Chinese toy makers have almost wiped out most toy makers outside China. Most of them remain as boutique toy makers, selling expensive toys. Handing over the market to China has meant that we now have fewer sources of safe toys.
There is case for banning toys made in China until the country’s manufacturers recognize their responsibilities. There is also a case for boycotting some of the big brands until they can show us that they are proactively preventing harmful toys. We have to cease being supine consumers and assert our rights both as consumers and citizens.