RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—This time, it's not Salmonella or tainted tomatoes, but Dora the Explorer tricycles, Little People, and inflatable balls that have government regulators overseeing a massive recall. Thursday morning, toy maker Mattel announced a massive recall involving over 10 million Fisher-Price products sold in the U.S. and Canada that are sending kids to the hospital for stitches, bleeding, and potential choking hazards.
Despite new legislation aimed at eliminating this very situation, child advocacy groups are still seeing these same types of recalls, says James Schwartz, an attorney and the director of the Boston-based group World Against Toys Causing Harm. "What we've seen from year to year is these same types of hazards recurring," he says. "Manufacturers are not learning lessons well enough from the past, but we are hopeful that that will change."
THE DETAILS: The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that there are 10 million products, all sold under the Fisher Price brand, involved in the recall, posing choking and other physical hazards to toddlers and young children. All four recalls were announced on Thursday and it's unclear whether they are related in any way other than having come from the same company.
• Approximately 120,000 cars included in the Little People Wheelies Stand ‘n Play Rampway are being recalled because the wheels can fall off and pose a choking hazard; the toy is intended for children between 1½ and 5 years old. Click here for pictures and model numbers.
• Just over 1 million Healthy Care, Easy Clean, and Close to Me high chairs are being recalled, due to a protruding part. The agency has 14 documented cases in which children have fallen against the part, seven of whom needed stitches, and one case that resulted in a tooth injury. All models of these particular high chairs are included in the recall; you can click here for pictures.
• Nearly 3 million Baby Playzone Crawl & Cruise Playgrounds, Baby Playzone Crawl & Slide Arcades, Baby Gymtastics Play Walls, Ocean Wonders Kick & Crawl Aquariums, 1-2-3 Tetherballs, and Bat & Score Goals are being recalled because the inflatable balls in each of these products have valves that can fall off and pose a choking hazard. There have been 14 cases in the U.S. and Canada in which infants were found with the parts in their mouths. Click here for pictures and model numbers.
• About 7 million Trikes and Tough Trikes toddler tricycles are being recalled because they have pretend plastic ignition keys that protrude from the tricycles. So far, CPSC has documented 10 injuries, six of which were girls falling against or on the keys requiring medical attention. Fourteen models are included in the recall, and you can view pictures and model numbers here.
WHAT IT MEANS: This is certainly one of the largest toy recalls that has taken place since the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act went into effect in early 2009. The act, which banned lead paint and certain types of hormone-disrupting phthalate plasticizers, requires toy manufacturers to have their products tested by a third party to ensure that they meet toy safety standards set forth by the CPSC. But even with those standards in place, this recall makes clear that simply having laws doesn't guarantee that they'll be followed adequately. "Even since the act has gone into effect, we've still seen a lot of hazards in the marketplace," says Schwartz. "Unfortunately, the standards, in our estimation, are inadequate, and the standards that are in place are not adhered to as closely as they should be."