From: Reuters
Published September 10, 2007 09:41 AM

Toys "R" Us Steps Up Toxins Testing

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Retailer Toys "R" Us is increasing the frequency of safety checks conducted on products sold in its stores after a slew of Chinese-made toys were recalled this summer due to unsafe levels of lead paint.


"Earlier this year we began spot checking of products on our store shelves as part of our increased efforts for quality assurance," said Toys "R" Us spokeswoman Kathleen Waugh.


"But in light of recent recalls we have begun a systematic recheck of all products on our store shelves."


Lead paint has been linked to health problems in children, including brain damage.


Earlier on Monday, the New York Times reported that the toy retailer had hired engineers to regularly visit the company's stores to take branded toys to independent labs for testing.


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The New York Times also said Walt Disney Co will start its own testing of toys featuring Disney characters.


Disney executives intend to inform Mattel Inc and other toy makers on Monday, the report said. The process will include random testing of products already on store shelves, the report said.


Disney could not immediately be reached for comment.


The increased scrutiny comes after millions of toys made in China were recalled this summer, often due to excessive levels of lead paint.


Last week, Mattel said it would recall more than 800,000 toys globally that contain intolerably high levels of lead -- marking the third recall by the industry leader.


Retailers are taking action ahead of the critical holiday selling season, and last month, Wal-Mart Stores Inc said it was asking suppliers to resubmit testing documentation for the toys it sells.


The world's largest retailer also said it hired independent laboratories to conduct an average of 200 additional tests each day, and said it was working to find new toys and manufacturers from all over the world to give parents greater choice.


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


(Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf and Nicole Maestri)


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