Mattel Inc. and its Fisher-Price subsidiary will pay a $2.3 million civil penalty in an agreement with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission for selling Chinese-made toys with hazardous levels of lead.
The fine, the commission’s largest for a toymaker, involves 95 toy models, from Barbie accessories to “Sarge” cars, the commission announced last week. Mattel, based in El Segundo, California, imported as many as 900,000 toys from September 2006 to August 2007 that violated rules on lead levels, the commission said. Fisher-Price, based in East Aurora, New York, imported as many as 1.1 million such toys, including Go Diego Go Rescue Boats and the Bongo Band, according to the commission.
Mattel “promptly took a series of steps after discovering compliance issues with some of our toys at that time,” the company said in a statement. As part of the settlement, Mattel and Fisher-Price denied they knowingly violated federal law, as CSPC alleges, the consumer safety commission said.
Mattel recalled more than 21 million toys made in China, including Elmo Stacking Rings and Bedtime Dora, after they were found in 2007 to have lead paint or dangerous designs. After the recalls by Mattel and other companies in 2007, Congress overhauled consumer regulations, effectively banning lead in toys, requiring the CPSC to hire more workers and boosting fines on sellers of dangerous products.
The lead-tainted toys contributed to debate in Congress over the safety of products imported from China, including milk products and the main ingredient in the medicine heparin. Chinese officials promised to improve oversight.