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Elmo has recalls! Elmo has recalls!

By Alice Bradley

First, I think you should know that I spent two hours at the dentist yesterday, and my teeth have been ground into nubbins and my tiny tiny jaws don’t cotton to being pried open for hours–and now my face, well, it hurts. (Your face hurts? It’s killing us!, laughs the Internet. HA HAHA HA HA AH HAAAAAAA.) I’m sore and crabby and I know this blog isn’t about me, it’s about current events, I know, I KNOW, but the current events in Jersey are Alice’s teeth are crumbly like tea biscuits and she should get them reinforced with titanium if she ever wants to eat anything besides pudding. That was a headline in the Newark Star-Ledger. Go check. I’ll just sit here, massaging my head.
Where were we? Oh, news, right. Recalls, kids, recalls! First Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends were recalled due to naughty lead content –and now Fisher-Price has announced an enormous recall of some of their most popular Sesame Street and Dora the Explorer-themed toys. The toys, which were manufactered in China, are being recalled for—ta-daaa!–lead content. Apparently Mr. Noodle used the wrong can of paint on them. Oh, Mr. Noodle!
As reported in the official recall announcement, these products were being sold between May and August of this year, although according to Mattel, Fisher-Price’s parent company, most of the items were still in warehouses when the lead paint content was discovered.
This isn’t the first recall due to lead contamination Mattel has issued: last year their American Girl division recalled a line of children’s jewelry. (In addition to containing lead, they were found to be “overly winsome” and “resulting in unbearable adorableness.”) This recall, however, is of a far wider scope.
Why all the lead paint? Because it’s cheap, it improves paint quality, and it reduces drying time. Chinese manufacturers are used, after all, to keep costs low; according to the Wall Street Journal, the larger paint manufacturers in China regulate lead content, but there are always supplies brought in from smaller (probably cheaper) companies who don’t. It’s not hard to see how the lead gets to our shores. Let’s hope that the negative publicity Mattel suffers will lead to more stringent testing and regulations on overseas manufacturing.
So what do we do in the meantime? A quick glance through the Consumer Product Safety Commission site shows one recall after another due to lead paint (among other hazards); most of these recalls are unlikely to show up on the nightly news. After skimming this list I can safely say that the best way to protect your children is NEVER BUY THEM ANYTHING, EVER. Also they should never touch anything. (Also: Pacifiers decorated with crystals? What were you thinking, crystal-happy weirdos who made that?) Barring that, sign up on the CSPS site to receive email notification of recalls. Of course you’ll probably receive emails every few minutes. And you’ll never buy anything again. Think of all the money you’ll save!

Alice Bradley
About the Author

Alice Bradley

Alice Bradley was a regular contributor to Alpha Mom, writing about current events as they related to parenting. You can read about her daily life at her personal blog, Finslippy.


Alice Bradley was a regular contributor to Alpha Mom, writing about current events as they related to parenting. You can read about her daily life at her personal blog, Finslippy.

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  • JennyM

    August 6, 2007 at 10:27 am

    This is going to be an extremely uninformed comment and simply represents an amorphous feeling on my part. Before anything else, I’m very glad we finally seem to be paying more attention to the contents of the goods that we are importing. I’d just like to know why it seems to be NOW that we’re paying all this attention — I mean, we’ve been importing goods from China for decades, right?
    Have there been recalls all along and it’s just that recent events like the pet food issue have grabbed the media’s attention, making it the hot (hott?) news to report on what those Wacky Chinese Suppliers are doing now? Going further, at the same time that we’re pointing the finger at China did this, China did that — are we also going to hold the US companies who have moved production to China accountable for inspection and regulatory matters?
    Something about all this just triggers the “Whuh?” part of my mind or gut or something.
    At any rate, I guess the next time my nieces want to play with Thomas the Train I’ll recommend that we go outside and play DIRT instead. Or maybe AIR. Although I’m sure we’ve managed to screw up dirt and air, too.

  • Mom101

    August 6, 2007 at 8:01 pm

    That settles it. From now on my daughter’s just going to play with electrical outlets and kitchen knives like they used to in the good old days.

  • Deb

    August 7, 2007 at 12:28 am

    You said what I was thinking about the products that don’t make the news. I’ve never seen headlines about recalls of other plastiques…Dollar Store Hairbrushes and Ugly Lunchtote Recall or Glitter Orange Scented Sex Toy Recall.

  • Matt

    August 7, 2007 at 8:34 am

    There was a recall on Glitter Orange Scented Sex Toy? Damn, I missed it. (See Alice, I do have a sense of humor.)

  • Cobwebs

    August 7, 2007 at 9:56 am

    The worrisome thing about the Mattel recall is that they are extremely conscientious about quality control, and they still had problems. The Consumerist has a discussion of that:
    (Sorry about the teeth, Alice.)

  • braine

    August 13, 2007 at 11:29 am

    Apparently the Chinese executive whose company produced those lead-pianted Mattel toys has taken his own life. Yoiks.