Mattel suffers as it recalls more than 18m toys

NEW YORK - Toy maker Mattel has had to expand its recall of toys, including Barbie and Batman figures, to 18.5m globally, with 2m of those in the UK.

<em>Cars</em>: the latest recall concerns a toy from the film
Cars: the latest recall concerns a toy from the film
News of the latest recall came yesterday as it countered the recall with a US ad campaign assuring consumers of its product safety.

As many as 9.5m toys in the US are being recalled. However, the majority of the toys are no longer being retailed.

The latest recall began with a toy from the film Cars, and affects 436,000 toys globally - specifically the car based on the Sarge character.

It follows the recall of some Fisher-Price toys, including ones based on Dora the Explorer, announced on August 1. The recall has been caused by lead-contaminated paint supplied by a third party to one of Mattel's contractors in China.

As well as the Disney Pixar Cars material, Mattel is recalling 62 other toys sold between January 2007 and now. They include 44 Polly Pocket toys, 11 Doggie Day Care toys, four Batman toys, one One Piece toy, and the accessory part of two Barbie toys.

In the ad campaign, which ran in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, the Financial Times US and USA Today, Mattel chief executive Robert Eckert had written a letter telling parents that "nothing is more important than the safety of our children".

He went on to say: "Our long record of safety at Mattel is why we're one of the most trusted names with parents, and I am confident that the actions we are taking now will maintain that trust."

In the wake of the findings, Mattel has implemented a three-point checking system to ensure that only paint from certified suppliers is used. It is also tightening up its testing procedures.

In a statement revealing the latest recall, Eckert said: "The safety of children is our primary concern, and we are deeply apologetic to everyone affected.

"We don't want to have recalls, but we don't hesitate to take quick and effective action to correct issues as soon as we've identified them to ensure the safety of our products and the safety of children."

The owner of one of the factories involved in the recall, Zhang Shuhong, hanged himself in a warehouse owned by the company last week, Chinese state media has reported.

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