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       Consumer Goods 11/06/2009
Mattel: penalty for toy hazard

The fine, the commission’s largest for a toymaker, involves 95 toy models, from Barbie accessories to “Sarge” cars, commission spokesman Scott Wolfson said today.

“This penalty should serve notice to toymakers 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,” Thomas Moore, acting chairman of the commission, said in a statement.

Mattel, based in El Segundo, California, imported as many as 900,000 toys from September 2006 to August 2007 that violated rules on lead levels, the commission said. Fisher-Price, based in East Aurora, New York, imported as many as 1.1 million such toys, including Go Diego Go Rescue Boats and the Bongo Band, according to the commission.

Mattel “promptly took a series of steps after discovering compliance issues with some of our toys at that time,” the company said today in a statement. As part of the settlement, Mattel and Fisher-Price denied they knowingly violated federal law, as CSPC alleges, the consumer safety commission said.

The toymaker fell 11 cents to $16.35 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading and has risen 2.2 percent this year.

Mattel recalled more than 21 million toys made in China, including Elmo Stacking Rings and Bedtime Dora, after they were found in 2007 to have lead paint or dangerous designs.

After the recalls by Mattel and other companies in 2007, Congress overhauled consumer regulations, effectively banning lead in toys, requiring the CPSC to hire more workers and boosting fines on sellers of dangerous products.

The lead-tainted toys contributed to debate in Congress over the safety of products imported from China, including milk products and the main ingredient in the medicine heparin. Chinese officials promised to improve oversight.


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