Popular toy Aqua Dots recalled

Thursday, November 8, 2007 | 3:53 p.m. CST; updated 2:37 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — Aqua Dots, a popular bead craft set, have been recalled from store shelves in North America and Australia due to a chemical coating on the beads which converts into the date-rape drug, GHB, when ingested.

Approximately 4.2 million craft sets were recalled Wednesday. The sets were distributed in the U.S. by Toronto-based Spin-Master.

Toys “R” Us in Columbia did sell the product but since the recall, pulled it from their shelves, a store spokesperson said Thursday.

The toy, which has been on store shelves since April at a cost of between $17 and $30, made Wal-Mart’s list of top 12 Christmas toys this year.

“The supplier of Aqua Dots notified us November 7 that the company has stopped shipment of this product and asked retailers to remove the item from shelves. We have already directed our stores to remove these toys from store shelves and on and have placed an electronic stop at our registers to prevent the sale of these items,” Wal-Mart officials said in an e-mail statement.

The defect was discovered after two children in the U.S. and three in Australia were sent to the hospital after eating the beads, according to the Associated Press.

Side effects of the drug, known as gamma hydroxy butyrate, include seizures, drowsiness, unconsciousness and, in some cases, coma and death. Both U.S. children went into comas after ingesting the beads.

Aqua Dots are made in a factory in China’s southern Guangdong province, which is also where some factories that produced recalled Mattel products containing lead paint are located. The Chinese government enacted an export ban on over 700 toy factories in the region last week because of “shoddy products.”

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