Mattel, Fisher-Price to Pay $2.3 Million Civil Penalty for Violating Federal Lead Paint Ban
Penalty is highest ever for CPSC regulated product violations
As part of its commitment to protecting the safety of children, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that Mattel Inc., of El Segundo, Calif. and its wholly owned subsidiary, Fisher-Price Inc., of East Aurora, N.Y. have agreed to pay a $2.3 million civil penalty for violating the federal lead paint ban.
The penalty settlement, which has been provisionally accepted by the Commission, resolves CPSC staff allegations that Mattel and Fisher-Price 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. In 1978, a federal ban was put in place which prohibited toys and other children's articles from having more than 0.06 percent lead (by weight) in paints or surface coatings. In 2007, about 95 Mattel and Fisher-Price toy models were determined to have exceeded this limit. Lead can be toxic if ingested by young children and can cause adverse health consequences.
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, settles the following allegations:
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 U.S. 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 publicized 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."
This settlement also resolves other potential matters. In agreeing to the settlement, Mattel and Fisher-Price deny that they knowingly violated federal law, as alleged by CPSC staff.
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