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Mattel CEO: 'Rigorous standards' after massive toy recall

  • Story Highlights
  • Mattel recalling 11 million toys in foreign countries, 9.5 million in U.S.
  • Mattel CEO says he's sorry for the situation
  • Barbie, Polly Pocket toys being recalled because of small magnets
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BETHESDA, Maryland (CNN) -- The CEO of Mattel Inc. insisted Tuesday that his company has "rigorous standards" and apologized as the company was forced to recall millions of toys for the second time in two weeks.


Mattel's Barbie and Tanner doll set is one of the products being recalled.

The toys were manufactured in China.

The recall, which was announced by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, affects about 9.5 million toys in the United States, and 11 million in foreign countries.

It is the largest in recent months involving Chinese products, which have come under scrutiny worldwide for containing potentially dangerous high levels of chemicals and toxins.

"We are concerned," Mattel Chief Executive Officer Bob Eckert told CNN. "With respect to the specifics of this recall, Mattel was investigating the earlier recall, and discovered this one as well." Video Watch reactions to the latest toy recall »

The earlier recall, on August 2, covered 1.5 million toys marketed by Fisher-Price's preschool division. Mattel is the parent company of Fisher-Price.

These toys were produced between May 2003 and November 2006. None manufactured after November 1, 2006, are affected. See the toys being recalled »

"I'm disappointed, I'm upset, but I can ensure your viewers that we are doing everything we can about the situation," Eckert said. "Every production batch of toys is being tested, and we'll continue to enforce the highest quality standards in the industry."

A spokesman with China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said Mattel "should improve its product design and supervision over product quality," the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

"Chinese original equipment manufacturers were doing the job just as importers requested, and the toys conformed with the U.S. regulations and standards at the time of the production."

In a full-page ad published Tuesday in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today, Eckert, a father of four, said that "nothing is more important than the safety of our children."

"Our long record of safety at Mattel is why we're one of the most trusted names with parents," Eckert wrote. "And I am confident that the actions we are taking now will maintain that trust."

"Nobody likes recalls, and I apologize for the situation we are now facing," Eckert told CNN.

The toys being recalled include ones that contain small magnets that can be dislodged, and others that have toxic lead paint. CNN's Sanjay Gupta explains lead risks

Nearly 2.5 million Polly Pocket play sets -- which use small imbedded magnets to stick accessories to dolls or doll houses -- were recalled November 21, 2006.

Since then, Mattel has received more than 400 additional reports of magnets coming loose, according to the safety commission, and the recall was expanded -- 7 million of the products now being recalled in the U.S. are Polly Pocket dolls and accessories.

In the previous recall, there were three reports of serious injuries to three children who swallowed more than one magnet. The magnets can stick to one another through human tissue, leading to perforations. The children suffered intestinal perforations that required surgery, according to the CPSC's Web site.

"The company has ordered that all products be pulled off retail shelves," said Nancy Nord, acting chairwoman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Also in the U.S. recall issued by the world's largest toy company are 1 million Doggie Daycare sets; 680,000 Barbie and Tanner play sets; 345,000 Batman and One Piece magnetic action figures; and 253,000 "Sarge" die-cast miniature toy vehicles.

The "Sarge" toys resemble Army Jeeps, and their paint may be toxic.

Today's Recall

  • Barbie and Tanner - hazardous magnet
  • Batman - hazardous magnet
  • Polly Pocket - hazardous magnet
  • Doggie Daycare - hazardous magnet
  • One Piece - hazardous magnet
  • Sarge cars - lead in paint

    All affected toys were made in China for Mattel
  • Asked what the Chinese are doing to prevent these problems from recurring, Nord said manufacturers are coming to Washington, D.C., this fall for product safety training sessions.

    Bryan Stockton, executive vice president for Mattel International, said the problems with the lead paint came from the subcontractor of a vendor that company has been associated with for 20 years. The subcontractor did not use certified paint, Stockton said.

    In the August 2 recall, the 1.5 million toys recalled by Fisher-Price's preschool division included Elmo, Big Bird and Dora, all made in China. The recall was prompted by concerns about lead paint and risks associated with small, high-powered magnets.

    In the recalled Polly Pocket play sets, magnets measuring an eighth of an inch are embedded in the hands and feet of some dolls. The magnets are also in doll clothing, hairpieces and other accessories, which attach the pieces to the doll or the doll's house, Mattel said.

    Some 7.3 million sets were sold at toy stores, and 2.4 million of those were recalled in November, the company said.

    There were three reports of serious injuries to children who swallowed more than one magnet. Read about girl sickened by Polly Pocket magnets

    The potentially dangerous magnets in the Barbie sets are inside the scooper accessory, the CPSC and Mattel said.

    Eckert said Mattel has changed the way it attaches magnets to its toys to make them safer.

    Tuesday's announcement marks the latest in a series of recalls of defective products made in China, which is the second-largest trading partner of the United States after Canada.


    China produces 80 percent of the world's toys.

    The manager of the Chinese toy factory that was producing the tainted products recalled August 2 hanged himself in one of the factory's warehouses over the weekend, Chinese government officials said. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

    All About Product RecallsMattel Inc.

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