As part of its commitment to protecting the safety of children, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that Mattel Inc., of El Segundo, Calif. and its wholly owned subsidiary, Fisher-Price Inc., of East Aurora, N.Y. have agreed to pay a $2.3 million civil penalty for violating the federal lead paint ban.
The penalty settlement, which has been provisionally accepted by the Commission, resolves CPSC staff allegations that Mattel and Fisher-Price knowingly (as defined in the Consumer Product Safety Act) imported and sold children’s toys with paints or other surface coatings that contained lead levels that violated a 30-year-old federal law. In 1978, a federal ban was put in place which prohibited toys and other children’s articles from having more than 0.06 percent lead (by weight) in paints or surface coatings. In 2007, about 95 Mattel and Fisher-Price toy models were determined to have exceeded this limit. Lead can be toxic if ingested by young children and can cause adverse health consequences.
This civil penalty, which is the highest for violations involving importation or distribution in commerce of a regulated product and is the third highest of any kind in CPSC history, settles the following allegations:
- Mattel imported up to 900,000 non-compliant toys between September 2006 and August 2007, including the “Sarge” toy car and numerous Barbie accessory toys, and distributed most of them to its retail customers for sale to U.S. consumers. The “Sarge” car was recalled in August 2007 and the Barbie toys were recalled in September 2007.
- Fisher-Price imported up to 1.1 million non-compliant toys between July 2006 and August 2007, including certain licensed character toys and the Bongo Band, GEOTRAX locomotive, and Go Diego Go Rescue Boat toys. Most of these toys were distributed to retail stores for sale to consumers. The licensed character toys were recalled in August 2007, the Bongo Band and GEO TRAX toys were recalled in September 2007, and the Go Diego Go Boat toys were recalled in October 2007.
“These highly publicized toy recalls helped spur Congressional action last year to strengthen CPSC and make even stricter the ban on lead paint on toys,” said CPSC Acting Chairman Thomas Moore. “This penalty should serve notice to toy makers that CPSC is committed to the safety of children, to reducing their exposure to lead, and to the implementation of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.”
This settlement also resolves other potential matters. In agreeing to the settlement, Mattel and Fisher-Price deny that they knowingly violated federal law, as alleged by CPSC staff.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products under the agency’s jurisdiction. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical or mechanical hazard. CPSC's work to help ensure the safety of consumer products - such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters and household chemicals -– contributed to a decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 40 years.
Federal law bars any person from selling products subject to a publicly-announced voluntary recall by a manufacturer or a mandatory recall ordered by the Commission.
To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury go online to www.SaferProducts.gov or call CPSC's Hotline at 800-638-2772 or teletypewriter at 301-595-7054 for the hearing impaired. Consumers can obtain news release and recall information at www.cpsc.gov, on Twitter @USCPSC or by subscribing to CPSC's free e-mail newsletters.
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