Source AP ©

Mattel Inc. recalls toys in Southeast Asia because of lead in paint

U.S. toy maker Mattel Inc. said Friday it is recalling in some Asian countries toys featuring the popular characters Barney, Dora and Diego because they may contain excessive amounts of lead in their paint.

The action is part of a worldwide recall announced Wednesday by Mattel division Fisher-Price that involves 967,000 plastic preschool toys made by a Chinese vendor and sold in the United States between May and August. Some of the U.S. toys in the recall are based on popular Sesame Street characters such as Big Bird and Elmo.

Out of the recall of 83 models, six types have been recalled in the Philippines, four in Singapore, three in Malaysia and one in Indonesia, said Mattel Southeast Asia Marketing Manager Cheok Ching Won in Kuala Lumpur.

"We have already informed all our retailers in the region, in those countries where the products are affected, and all affected products (have) already been pulled off the shelves," Cheok said.

Cheok said the impact of the recall in Asia was limited.

"They are very a small fraction of it ... because they're not our core toys, and they're in very small quantities," she said. She did not have a figure of how many toys were recalled in Asia.

Fewer than 500 units were recalled from stores in Malaysia, she said.

In Singapore, Toys "R" Us said that all affected items were removed from its sales floor, but declined further comment.

The four models being recalled in the city-state were the Sesame Street Shape Sorter, Barney Best Manners Phone, Dora's Talking House and its accessory set, Dora's House Figures Assortment.

Mattel will also be placing advertisements in newspapers Saturday in Singapore and the other countries where the recall applies, Cheok said.

The affected toys were manufactured between April 19 and July 6 by a Chinese vendor that had applied decorative paint to the toys, she said.

Cheok said markets such as Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Korea, China and Taiwan were not affected by the recall.

But in Hong Kong and Taiwan, Toys "R" Us stores have removed eight of the toy types identified by the Fisher-Price recall, Hong Kong company Li & Fung, which runs the stores, said in a statement Friday.

It said the toys were removed as a precaution.

Fisher-Price said Wednesday the problem with the toys was detected by an internal probe and reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission in the United States.

The Chinese maker produced the toys using a non-approved paint pigment containing lead, which in excessive amounts is harmful to young children and can cause brain and nervous system damage.

Fisher-Price and the commission issued statements saying parents should keep suspect toys away from children and contact the company.

The commission works with companies to issue recalls when it finds consumer goods that can be harmful. Under current U.S. regulations, children's products found to have more than .06 percent lead accessible to users are subject to a recall.

Thursday, Mattel apologized to customers affected by the recall and said the move will cut pretax operating income at the world's largest toy maker by US$30 million (EUR 22 million).

Mattel also said it was not aware of any additional issues related to lead in paints with its products but cannot guarantee that more issues will not be identified.

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