From: Reuters
Published August 18, 2007 05:14 PM

Toys "R" Us Stops Sales of China-Made Bibs

NEW YORK - Retailer Toys "R" Us on Friday said it removed all Hamco Inc.'s vinyl baby bibs, which were made in China, from its shelves as a precaution after an independent tester found two samples of bibs containing excessive amounts of lead.


The company said in a statement that the bibs were marketed under the Koala Baby, Especially for Baby and Disney Baby labels. Media reports earlier in the week said the inexpensive bibs were made in China and imported for Toys R Us by Hamco Baby Products.


Toys "R" Us and Crown Crafts Inc, which owns Hamco, could not be reached for comment.


The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) in California said in a statement on Friday, "We appreciate Toys R Us taking this strong action to protect children. Vinyl is a poison plastic that has no place around a baby's neck," said Charlie Pizarro, Associate Director of the Center for Environmental Health (CEH). "We hope the company disposes of the toxic bibs safely."


Earlier this week, the CEH said it had found high levels of lead in vinyl bibs purchased from Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us stores, including a bib with Disney's Winnie the Pooh characters and store brand bibs marketed as "Koala Baby" and "Especially for Baby." The full CEH statement and its report on bibs can be read at http://www.cehca.org.


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CEH said the lead levels were between three and four times the legal limit for lead in paint.


The New York Times newspaper reported that it hired a laboratory to test the bibs and that it found a similar level of contamination to that found in tests conducted for CEH.


"Lead in vinyl baby bibs poses a reckless, unnecessary hazard to children at the most vulnerable age," Caroline Cox, research director at CEH, said earlier this week.


Toys "R" Us said in its statement on Friday that it had asked Bureau Veritas to re-test samples of all Hamco-made bibs and that it decided to recall the bibs due to inconsistencies in results on bibs tested in May and August.


The company said it recently intensified its third party re-testing of products on its shelves.


"These companies have known for months that vinyl bibs could be a threat to children, yet they continued to put their profits ahead of children's health," Cox said.


In May, Wal-Mart Stores Inc conducted a nationwide recall on certain bibs made by Hamco, which were sold at the retailer between June 2004 and March 2007.


A number of products made in China or containing ingredients made in China have been recalled in the United States and other countries this year.


On Tuesday, Mattel Inc recalled millions of toys made in China due to hazards from magnets and lead paint. It was the company's second recall in a month of toys made in China.


In June, RC2 Corp recalled toy trains made in China because some of them contained lead paint, which can cause brain damage in children.


Toys "R" Us is owned by a consortium that includes Bain Capital Partners LLC, Kohlber Kravis Roberts & Co. and Vornado Realty Trust.


The company said shoppers can return the bibs for a refund and that they can call 1-800-869-7787 for more information on the recall.


(See http://blogs.reuters.com/category/themes/shop-talk/ for "Shop Talk" -- Reuters' retail and consumer blog)


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