From: By Matthew Bigg, Reuters
Published August 16, 2007 12:25 AM

Parents Wary After China Toys Recall

ATLANTA (Reuters) - The recall of millions of Chinese-made toys by U.S. toy company Mattel Inc. will make Americans more cautious about buying toys made in China but will not deter them, parents said.


U.S. companies were as much to blame for importing sub-standard goods as Chinese manufacturers who produced them, said parents interviewed in Atlanta and Phoenix.


They said parents were under two types of pressure: to buy particular makes of toys and dolls for children and to buy cheap. That means it would be near impossible to stop buying Chinese-made toys.


"I am going to be a little more vigilant and I am happy that there is some kind of standard," said Lauren Bays, a mother of two small children, said after learning about the product recall.


"I would pay more for (toys made by) a company that was safe," said Bays, eating at an Atlanta shopping mall with her family.


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She said it would be reassuring to buy U.S.-made products but just because a toy was made in the United States did not automatically make it safe.


The recall on Tuesday involves 18.2 million magnetic toys globally including 9.5 million in the United States with magnets or magnetic parts that can be dislodged.


The toys involved include Polly Pocket dolls, Doggie Day Care magnetic toys, Barbie and Tanner magnetic toys, Batman and One Piece play sets.


Some parents said the recall raised the issue of whether Chinese-made products could be trusted at all.


TRUSTING TOY COMPANIES


"We need to trust the toy companies and I'm not sure that we can trust the things that are made in China anymore," mother Marie Thearle told Reuters as she left a Toys R Us store in Scottsdale, Arizona, with her 2-year-old daughter.


Thearle, a medical doctor, said she had checked the Mattel recall list before setting off for the toy store on Tuesday and had decided not to buy anything made in China.


"I'm just not sure that they have the same regulations that we have in the United States to make sure that things are safe ... Previously I didn't really think about it but now I am not going to buy anything that was made in China," she said.


But living without purchasing Chinese-made products is not easy, as author Sara Bongiorni discovered when she attempted to do so for a year. She detailed her attempt in the book "A Year Without 'Made in China,'" which was published this year.


Bongiorni said she wanted to make Americans aware of how tied they were to the global economy and did not have a protectionist agenda.


Susan Spencer, a mother of two boys in Atlanta, said U.S. parents trapped in a consumer culture also were partly to blame because their constant demand for more disposable products created opportunities for suppliers prepared to manufacture goods very cheaply.


China's economy mirrored the U.S. economy 100 years ago with rampant growth but weaker environmental and safety standards, Spencer said.


"Consumerism is our new religion," she said. "We have these wants and everyone has to fill them with this stuff. Families are spread out and people feel like there is something missing so they buy this stuff."


Carolyn Long of Phoenix, a mother of two young children, said she read about the recall on the Internet before setting out for a toy store in Phoenix to buy a computer game for a nephew.


"It seems that everything that we buy comes from China," she said. "We don't find very much made in America. Is it scary? Definitely ... I guess it should be a bit government regulated what's coming in from over there ... I would not want my children having things with lead-based paint in them."


(Additional reporting by Tim Gaynor in Phoenix)


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