After a massive toy recall earlier this week, Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon has launched a Web site to serve as a recall clearinghouse, combining information from several federal agencies.
Mattel, the company that owns famous toy brands such as Fisher-Price and Barbie, issued a recall Tuesday of 9 million toys made in China and sold in the U.S. The toys contain small magnets or could have lead paint that can be dangerous if ingested, according to the Associated Press.
Nixon’s site, ago.mo.gov/recalls, lists recalls and safety alerts issued by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Coast Guard.
“This Web page offers a one-stop resource for keeping tabs on exactly what products have been recalled and what consumers should do if they have any of the recalled products,” Nixon said in a news release.
In the past year, there has been a series of recalls of Chinese-made toys from such well-known brands as Mattel Inc.’s Fisher-Price, RC2 Corp.’s Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway and Hasbro Inc.’s Easy Bake Oven. Recalls of other products manufactured in China, such as toothpaste, tires and pet food, have also been highly publicized.
Local care providers and parents say they are careful but see no reasons to overreact.
Birlas Ejaz, originally from Pakistan and a teacher at the Islamic School of Columbia, said she has been making decisions about the age appropriateness of toys in her classroom as she prepares for the new school year. Looking around the room strewn with large puzzle pieces, blocks and books, she said she hasn’t found any of the recalled toys or any toys with magnets.
“Safety is the first priority,” she said.
The Columbia Public Schools’ Parents as Teachers program is another source of information for parents of young children. The program coordinator, Belinda Masters, said she hasn’t received any direct calls from concerned parents.
“Most of our parents are pretty well-informed,” she said. “I can’t imagine there is a parent who doesn’t know about this, unless they don’t watch TV, read newspapers or listen to the radio.”
Laura Pavlak, of Centralia, said she is aware of the reports of lead-laced paint but not of the danger that magnets may pose. She is not very worried because her daughter Lacey, 5, is old enough to avoid that danger, she said. Pavlak said she wonders if she should be doing more research but added that she wishes the manufacturers were more on top of the issue.
No injuries were reported in the most recent recall, but three children required surgery after swallowing magnets from Mattel’s Polly Pocket playsets last year, leading to a recall November 21, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
The CPSC reports that toys caused the deaths of 20 children younger than 15 in 2005, the year of the most recent data available. Since 1990, the number of toy-related deaths in this age group ranged from 11 to 25 each year.
Carol Coulter operates a day-care service from her home in Columbia and also has a 2-year-old grandson. Coulter uses toys’ age limits as a guideline but also trusts her personal judgment about individual children’s tendency to put things in their mouths.
“You have to be responsible,” she said.
Coulter said she checks bulletin boards at Target stores for recall updates, in addition to watching the news and referring to the CPSC site.
“It’s sad that the majority of our children’s toys are made out of our country,” she said. “If more of our products were made here in the states, it would be easier to follow our safety regulations and produce safe toys and other products.”
The CPSC, a federal agency created to inform the public about consumer hazards, has a telephone hotline available with consumer safety information 24 hours a day: (800) 638-2772. Toy safety information is also available on its Web site: cpsc.gov.