The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has ordered toy company Mattel Inc and its subsidiary, Fisher-Price Inc, to pay $2.3 million civil penalty for violating the federal lead paint ban.
CPSE provisionally set the penalty on the El Segundo, California-based Mattel and its wholly owned subsidiary Fisher-Price Inc, of East Aurora, NY, for it ''knowingly (as defined in the Consumer Product Safety Act) imported and sold children's toys with paints or other surface coatings that contained lead levels that violated a 30-year-old federal law,'' the agence said in a release.
The US federal law prohibits manufacture and sale of toys and other children's articles having more than 0.06 per cent lead (by weight) in paints or surface coatings. In 2007, the commission has found about 95 Mattel and Fisher-Price toy models to have exceeded this limit. ''Lead can be toxic if ingested by young children and can cause adverse health consequences,'' the release pointed out.
This civil penalty, which is the highest for violations involving importation or distribution in commerce of a regulated product and is the third highest of any kind in CPSC history, the release noted.
Mattel imported up to 900,000 non-compliant toys between September 2006 and August 2007, including the ''Sarge'' toy car and numerous Barbie accessory toys, and distributed most of them to its retail customers for sale to US consumers. The ''Sarge'' car was recalled in August 2007 and the Barbie toys were recalled in September 2007.
Fisher-Price imported up to 1.1 million non-compliant toys between July 2006 and August 2007, including certain licensed character toys and the Bongo Band, GEOTRAX locomotive, and Go Diego Go Rescue Boat toys. Most of these toys were distributed to retail stores for sale to consumers. The licensed character toys were recalled in August 2007, the Bongo Band and GEO TRAX toys were recalled in September 2007, and the Go Diego Go Boat toys were recalled in October 2007.
''These highly publicised toy recalls helped spur Congressional action last year to strengthen CPSC and make even stricter the ban on lead paint on toys,'' said CPSC acting chairman Thomas Moore. ''This penalty should serve notice to toy makers 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,'' he added.
In agreeing to the settlement, Mattel and Fisher-Price, however, denied that they knowingly violated federal law, as alleged by the CPSC.