After consumers discovered an influx of lead-tainted toys imported by Mattel and other companies, Congress acted to strengthen protections through the Consumer Protection Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA).  The legislation created almost impossible hurdles for small manufacturers and resellers for testing products, while earlier this month the CPSC announced it would send inspectors fanning out across the USA to enforce the laws in thrift shops.  Now one of the companies that created the problem in the first place has gotten a waiver from the CPSIA’s requirements for third-party testing:

Toy-makers, clothing manufacturers and other companies selling products for young children are submitting samples to independent laboratories for safety tests. But the nation’s largest toy maker, Mattel, isn’t being required to do the same.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission recently, and quietly, granted Mattel’s request to use its own labs for testing that is required under a law Congress passed last summer in the wake of a rash of recalls of toys contaminated by lead. Six of those toys were produced by Mattel Inc., and its subsidiary Fisher-Price. …

Mattel is getting a competitive advantage, Green said, because smaller companies must pay independent labs to do the tests. Testing costs can run from several hundred dollars to many thousands, depending on the test and the toy or product.

Mattel had to recall more than 2 million toys from the market after inspectors discovered lead in the imported products.  Now they claim that their “firewalled” labs will protect consumers and block out “corporate influence”.  Where are the labs that Mattel will use?  Mexico, Malaysia, Indonesia, and China — and China is where the dangerous toys originated.

Mattel gets to test its own products.  People like Suzi Lang have to pay laboratories to certify their hand-made products contain no lead or phthalates, which she already knows because she handpicks her materials.  Thrift stores have to either test products for resale or confirm that they have not been recalled, on an individual basis.  But the company that caused the biggest problem that led to the CPSIA gets a waiver.  How convenient … and unjust.

Tags: China