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China Claims That Mattel's Recall of Toys Were Due to Design Faults

by VR Sreeraman on August 28, 2007 at 1:19 PM
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China Claims That Mattel's Recall of Toys Were Due to Design Faults

A design fault was mostly to blame for US toy giant Mattel's recall of millions of products, not the Chinese manufacturers, China's chief safety watchdog said Monday.

Li Changjiang also said Chinese factories were in the clear over the alleged discovery of the dangerous formaldehyde chemical in clothing sold in New Zealand, as he sought to reassure the world over the "Made-in-China" label.

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Eighty-five percent of the roughly 20 million toys that Mattel recalled were due to design faults, Li, the director of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, told reporters.

Li said only 15 percent were deemed unsafe due to Chinese manufacturers using dangerous lead in the paint.

"So I would like to pose this question: the Chinese manufacturers have their share of the responsibility, but what kind of responsibilities do the American importer and the product designer have?" he asked.
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Mattel said when it announced the recalls this month that there were concerns about small magnets in some of the toys and lead in the paint on the others.

The Mattel scandal made global headlines and came to symbolise concerns about the safety of Chinese exports, following a slew of recalls worldwide that included goods ranging from toothpaste to car tyres and pet food.

Meanwhile, Li also said Chinese-made children's pyjamas in New Zealand that allegedly contained levels of formaldehyde 900 times higher than was believed safe had actually passed safety tests by both governments.

The New Zealand government last week launched an investigation after a television programme there reported that some clothing imported from China contained unacceptably high levels of the chemical.

Formaldehyde is used to prevent creasing in clothes and fabrics but is also linked to health problems ranging from skin complaints to cancer.

"The tests (by the Chinese government) found that the relevant textile products passed the standards for low fire danger and formaldehyde levels," Li told a news conference.

He said New Zealand had informed China last week that both the design and fire resistance levels of the garments conformed to the country's standards.

Li also insisted the bad publicity over the dangerous products was having little impact on China's exporters.

Total Chinese exports in the first half of this year rose 27.6 percent to 546.7 billion dollars, he said.

During that time Chinese exports to the United States grew 17.8 percent, while goods bound for the European Union went up by 30.2 percent, and products sent to Japan rose by 11.3 percent.

"These figures show fully that Chinese products are popular all over the world," Li said.

Last week, Li was quoted in state media saying the international safety concerns were due to trade protectionism that aimed to "demonise" China.

Nevertheless, he referred to a new four-month campaign which was announced last week to improve the quality of its consumer products, saying it would be able to restore international consumer confidence.

"This will mark a new stage in our country's product quality and food safety and will lead to the world putting faith in "Made in China" products," he said.

Source: AFP
SRM/J
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