The recall of thousands of unsafe Fisher-Price toys in Australia has been the latest consumer scare regarding products made in China.
The toy giant Mattel announced the global recall last week after discovering that surface paint on nearly one million of their Fisher-Price toys had dangerously high levels of lead, from that number it is believed 43,000 toys are in Australia.
Mattel said in a statement last Thursday August 2 that the toys had been "made by a contract manufacturer in China that were produced using a non-approved paint pigment containing lead, which is in violation of applicable standards, as well as our own self-imposed standards." The toy company is conducting a thorough investigation, they stated. The ABC reported that of the 24 different character toys it included the popular Sesame Street and Dora the Explorer lines which had been on the shelves since May of this year. Christopher Zinn from consumer advocate group Choice told the national broadcaster that lead levels have long been a health concern.
"It was said to affect mental development," said Mr Zinn, "and you know that's basically why we have unleaded petrol now and, in the domestic setting we don't have lead paints and we're rightly wary of them."
Toxic lead in paint work also saw the recall of nearly 100,000 Chinese made Thomas the Tank Engine toys in Australia two months ago.
Mr Zinn said the issue of dangerous products originating from China has been an ongoing concern for several years.
"We have had issues recently in terms of fabric with formaldehyde," he said. "Sheets and blankets and also aquaculture that people are concerned about. There's no doubt that the regulatory authorities in China are not working as tightly as those in this country may be doing so in this sort of issues. So that would be a cause of concern." The NSW Liberal's Shadow Fair Trading Minister, Catherine Cusack, on Friday August 3 said that her Labor Party opposite, Linda Burney, should convene an urgent meeting of Consumer Affairs Ministers to respond to the growing number of dodgy and dangerous imports from China.
"Until China comes up with a rigorous quality scheme and can guarantee compliance, NSW needs to act to protect our consumers," Ms Cusack said via statement. "Consumer laws are the responsibility of the states and there is a clear need to hold a summit to ensure a national response," she said.
"The 'fix-when-fail' system of withdrawing products such as toothpaste laced with poison and children's toys painted with lead is not good enough," Ms Cusack said.