From: Reuters
Published September 7, 2007 03:26 PM

Congress Looks Into Mattel After Toy Recalls; Toymakers Call For Safety Tests

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. Congress is looking into Mattel Inc's procedures for alerting federal regulators about hazardous toys, The Wall Street Journal reported in its online edition on Friday.


Senior Democrats in the Senate and the House have launched separate probes, which are expected to focus on Mattel's dealings with the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the report said.


Mattel said on Tuesday that it would recall more than 800,000 toys for excessive lead levels, its third such recall this summer. The CPSC has disagreed sharply with the toy company over the investigation of reports of dangerous products.


The consumer protection subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee intends to have Mattel Chief Executive Robert Eckert testify on September 19, the report said.


The Senate Appropriations subcommittee, chaired by Dick Durbin of Illinois, is expected to hear from Eckert during a Wednesday hearing that will focus in part on the company's policy of alerting regulators to safety problems, the article said.


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Mattel officials did not immediately return a call requesting comment.


Separately, The New York Times reported in its online edition that the nation's largest toy companies have taken the unusual step of asking the U.S. government to impose mandatory safety-testing standards for all toys sold in the country.


The proposal, approved by the board of the Toy Industry Association at a private meeting last week, does not envision a broad federal inspection program, the report said.


Instead, companies would be required to hire independent laboratories to check a certain portion of their toys, whether made in the United States or overseas, the report said.


In the past several weeks, Mattel has announced three recalls of toys made in China because of excessive amounts of lead paint and other dangers.


Officials for the toy association were not immediately available.


(Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf)


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