Mattel just announced its second August recall - one of history's largest with over 18 million toys globally, about 12 times the size of its previous recall. From Reuters:
The new recall involves 18.2 million magnetic toys globally, including 9.5 million in the United States. All have magnets or magnetic parts that can be dislodged.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said it had received hundreds of reports of magnets coming loose. It said it had previously received reports of three children swallowing more than one magnet and suffering intestinal perforations that required surgery. When more than one magnet is swallowed, the magnets can attract each other and cause intestinal perforation or blockage, which can be fatal.
In the United States, the recall includes 7.3 million Polly Pocket dolls and accessories with magnets, 1 million Doggie Day Care magnetic toys, 683,000 Barbie and Tanner magnetic toys, and 345,000 Batman and One Piece play sets.
About 253,000 Pixar Sarge die-cast toy cars with lead paint were also recalled. Lead has been linked to health problems in children, including brain damage.
Earlier this month Mattel's Fisher-Price unit recalled about 1.5 million preschool toys made by China-based contract manufacturer Lida Toy Co. because the paint on the toys might contain excessive amounts of lead. The global recall included products based on popular preschool characters from "Sesame Street" and "Dora the Explorer."
These import safety scares are the direct result of a trade policy that has off-shored more and more food and product production to countries with weaker regulation than our already inadequate domestic regulation. 80% of our seafood now comes from abroad; 80% of toy production is now Made in China.
It’d be easy to blame China, but the problem is much deeper. For decades, both Republican and Democratic administrations have pushed trade agreements which put limits on our ability to inspect imports. Under World Trade Organization rules, negotiated by the first President Bush and pushed through Congress by President Clinton, we can’t treat products differently if they come from outside the U.S., and we can’t demand higher rates of inspection for problem countries. Clinton also pushed China into the WTO – a move that was supported by all the senators now running for president that were in office in 2000 – so that means the bad rules apply to mega-manufacturer China as well. Now, Congress is poised to lock in more-of-the-same through NAFTA expansion agreements to Peru and Panama - countries with severe food safety problems. As Newt Gingrich would say, “Had enough? Call your congressperson!”