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Disney set to test toys itself

September 12, 2007|By Jeremy Oberstein

BURBANK — After three highly publicized recalls by Mattel this summer involving thousands of Chinese-made, lead-tainted toys, the Walt Disney Co. and Toys ‘R’ Us both announced steps to independently test their products.

“We will enhance our compliance process,” Disney spokeswoman Nidia Tatalovich said. “This sends a message to [manufacturers] that says, ‘We are looking over your shoulder.’”

Previously, Disney would license the production of toys to manufacturers, which would submit documentation back to Disney based on the toys’ safety standards.

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The manufacturer would then submit testing results to Disney.

Licensees would submit safety documentation several times a year, ensuring product compliance, Tatalovich said.

Now, Disney will test about 65,000 products throughout the year, and will oversee a “significant increase” in personnel in the company’s product integrity office, which will be charged with checking the safety of toys. Disney will also require more frequent licensee documentation, Tatalovich said.

“We will test new toys and those currently on the shelf,” she said.

“If we find that any toys do not meet our compliance standard, we will take the proper steps to ensure their safety.”

Disney’s new plans were approved Thursday, and officials hope to begin the review process immediately, Tatalovich said.

“We are working as hard as we can to get this started,” Tatalovich said.

Toys ‘R’ Us also took independent steps to ensure product safety.

Toys ‘R’ Us recalled seven Mattel Barbie products on Sept. 5, citing lead concerns, according to the company’s website. This followed two recalls on Sept. 4 of more than 98,000 Mattel toys the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said had “excessive levels of lead.” All of the products came from China.

The nation’s largest toy manufacturer said it has engineers in the field this week, randomly selecting toys from store shelves around the country.

Local residents welcomed the news.

“I think it’s great,” Burbank resident Melissa Binkley said, inside the Victory Boulevard Toys ‘R’ Us as her 3-year-old son dashed from one toy aisle to another. “It’s just all the more incentive to shop here.

“I never really paid attention to any of that [recall] stuff before I had a son. Now I’m very aware, and it’s really scary. But if [Toys ‘R’ Us] is taking steps to have safer toys, I think it’s marvelous.”

Colleen Lerian voiced a similar nod of approval inside the Disney Store at the Glendale Galleria.

“I think it’s great,” the La Cañada Flintridge mother of two said about Disney’s new protective procedures. “The recall was very scary because, well, everyone puts toys in their mouth.”

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