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Wed 15 Aug 2007 11:21 AM

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Mattel recalls 18mn made-in-China toys

UPDATE 2.30pm: More than 1,000 products are being withdrawn in the Gulf, says toymaker's local agent.

Mattel's agent in the GCC said today it would recall more than a thousand toys from the region after the US toy company withdrew 18.2 million made-in-China toys worldwide because they contain small, powerful magnets that can cause injury if swallowed.

Dubai-based Al-Shula General Trading Company said that 800 to 1,200 units shipped to the region had been affected by Mattel’s recall, the second in two weeks.

“Four items out of sixty-three have been affected, with two to three hundred toys per item,” a spokesperson for Al-Shula told ArabianBusiness.com.

“In our Mattel products, the magnets are much stronger than those affected in the recall - we don’t believe they would fall out, but we are still making the recall.”

Al-Shula said in a statement the four items affected in the region were the Polly Pocket Pollywood Limo-Scene Vehicle, Polly Pocket Pollywood Dial A Style, Barbie and Tanner and the Batman Magnet Lok Figure Assortment.

One of the most severely-affected items in this recall are Polly Pocket dolls, of which 7.3 million have been recalled worldwide.

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission said there had been reports of three children requiring surgery after swallowing more than one magnet.

When more than one magnet is swallowed, they can attract each other and cause intestinal perforation or blockage, which can be fatal.

Also recalled due to magnet dangers were one million Doggie Day Care, 683,000 Barbie and Tanner play sets, and 345,000 Batman and One Piece play sets. No injuries were reported from those items.

This marks the second recall for the US company after it withdrew 1.5 million Chinese-made preschool toys after it found certain products were made with paint containing too much lead - a substance which has been linked to health problems in children, including brain damage.

About 253,000 Pixar Sarge die-cast toy cars with lead paint are part of the new recall. No injuries were reported in connection with the toys.

Toys 'R' Us in the UAE, represented by the al-Futtaim Group, said today there were awaiting details and instructions from Al-Shula regarding the recall.

Al-Shula had said in the first recall that only four toy items had been affected, with 250 units shipped to the region. The Al-Futtaim Group said of these four items, only one - the Barney Best Manners Phone - had ever been available in its stores and had been immediately removed from shelves.

Though Mattel has warned that this may not be the last of the recalls, Al-Shula believes this could be the last one for the time being.

“I believe that there should not be any more recalls, but Mattel is being cautious,” said the spokesperson.

‘Made-in-China’ label hit

The recall marks the latest in a series of scandals for the ‘Made-in-China’ labelwhich have affected pet food, drugs, tyres, toys and toothpaste.

China’s government last week banned two factories from exporting toys following the previous week's high profile recall of Mattel products.

The country’s Toy Association said in a statement that Chinese-made toys were overwhelmingly safe and that the government takes the issue very seriously.

"The Chinese government and industry have all along attached great importance to the issue of toy quality safety, and taken a series of measures such as strengthened authentication," it said.

Of about 300,000 batches for export, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission had only made about 29 recalls, it added.

“The general safety level of Chinese toys is worthy of trust,” the statement said.

Neither the Al-Futtaim Group nor Mattel's regional representatives were not immediately available for comment on the latest recall.

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