Friday, January 25, 2008

No Future Change to Made in China

Over 75% of the toys sold in the United States are made in China. As of January 25,2008, there have been seven recalls of over 200,000 toys. All of the toys have been made in China or Taiwan. Will there be a change in where the toys are made?

In a recent article in the International Herald Tribune by Donald Greenlees titled Toy Industry Tries to Regain Parents' Trust, the author summarizes the articles stating that it

"is unlikely to see any fundamental change in where toys are made.Despite the product scares of 2007 and the prospect of higher costs, toy companies say there is no realistic alternative to China.Philip Shoptaugh, who owns the Oakland, California-based Shoptaugh Games, an educational toy maker, said China's toy industry infrastructure and labor rates still give it a big edge over alternatives "I think there are probably a lot of shoppers who made an effort over Christmas to read the box and say 'it's made in China, I won't buy made in China this year,"' he said."But having said that, are you going to pay twice as much for a doll because it's not made in China? The thing is you cannot make these products in the United States and have them be competitive on the shelf."

After hearing of all the toy recalls last year and the problem products (like antifreeze in toothpaste) from China, I decided to ban all toys from China in our house. I looked at all the toys in our house and found ONE made in Germany - all the rest - China. So I started looking for alternatives - and for some toys there are definitely alternatives. But while we may be willing to pay more for toys not made in China - in some toy categories there just aren't good alternatives.

In starting, I read a very interesting book called A Year Without "Made in China": One Family's True Life Adventure in the Global Economy by Sara Bongiorni (which you can purchase for $16 through the Amazon link on our website.) A story about a family's struggle in going an entire year without buying products made in China. It was amazing to me to realize what all comes from China.

While it doesn't look like there will be a change in where the majority of toys are made, in the end, I decided I couldn't completely ban China. I definitely look at labels (especially toothpaste) and when I can buy out of China, I definitely do. As a result, I feel like I am at least now making an informed decision when I buy toys.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Home Lead Test Kits

Home Lead Test Kits
The other day I saw one of those home lead test kits in the store. With the second recall of 2008 issued this week for excessive lead in children’s toys, I decided to do some research to see if these home kits were worthwhile.

“Useful . . . though limited” is what Consumer Reports said about three of the five testers.

The CPSC study of home lead tests resulted in the following caution : “Consumers should exercise caution when using these test kits to evaluate consumer products for potential lead exposures. False results can make it difficult or impossible for consumers to determine the proper course of action to take. In fact, CPSC staff has tested a number of other samples that had been identified by consumers and others based on their use of inexpensive test kits as having high lead levels. To date, none of these items has actually had high lead levels based on CPSC lab analysis. This is another indication of the poor reliability of the kits for this purpose. Testing by a qualified laboratory and trained personnel is the only way to accurately assess the potential risk posed by a consumer product that may contain lead.”

From a pediatricsblog: “Even if they were reliable, testing toys yourself isn't very practical. Most toys include many pieces or are at least painted with several different colors and you would likely have to test each to be complete. For example, with the Barbie Dream Puppy House that was recalled this year, lead paint was only found on the puppy that was included with the toy. With lead test kits typically costing about $1 a test, it will quickly get expensive to test even just your child's most played with toys. "

Doesn’t look like the home lead test kits are the answer to safety in our children’s toys.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Alicia's News Interview on Fox 19

Alicia's interview with reporter Jill Eichhorn from Fox 19 news aired on December 29th. You can watch the two minute interview by visiting our home page - (link on the bottom right) to hear Alicia and Jill's comments about our personalized toy recall notification service.