Regulators say popular Zhu Zhu Pets are safe - KMOV.com

Regulators say popular Zhu Zhu Pets are safe

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Toys "R" Us employee Ray Singer stacks 100 Zhu Zhu Pets on a table before Black Friday holiday shopper are allowed inside Toys "R" Us in Camp Hill, Pa., late Thursday, Nov. 26, 2009. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) By Carolyn Kaster Toys "R" Us employee Ray Singer stacks 100 Zhu Zhu Pets on a table before Black Friday holiday shopper are allowed inside Toys "R" Us in Camp Hill, Pa., late Thursday, Nov. 26, 2009. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) By Carolyn Kaster

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Toy safety regulators said Monday that Zhu Zhu Pets -- one of the holiday season's hottest toy crazes -- do not violate federal safety standards after all.

A spokesman for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission told The Associated Press the toy "is not out of compliance" with a new U.S. toy safety law that began taking effect this year. The agency did not test the toy.

The California-based consumer group GoodGuide raised concerns last weekend over the presence of a potentially harmful heavy metal in a Mr. Squiggles model of the robotic hamsters that it tested. The group said its testing found levels of antimony, a heavy metal that can cause vomiting if eaten and heart and lung problems if breathed, on the toy's hair and nose that exceeded new federal limits.

But those claims fell apart Monday, when GoodGuide announced that the way it got its test results -- using a special gun that shoots X-rays into a toy and gives a reading for how much lead, antimony or other substances are in the material -- is not recognized by the CPSC to judge whether a toy is hazardous.

Instead, the CPSC tests how much of a heavy metal would actually seep out if a kid sucked or swallowed a toy -- not just how much of a potentially dangerous substance a toy contains.

"While we accurately reported the chemical levels in the toys that we measured using our testing method, we should not have compared our results to federal standards," GoodGuide said in a written release. "We regret this error."

Later in the day, the CPSC told AP that it concluded the furry toy, which retails for about $10, does not pose a threat based on independent testing presented by the toy's manufacturer, Cepia LLC, which is based in St. Louis.

The toy's maker had vehemently defended Zhu Zhu Pets' safety from the start.

"CPSC confirmed today that the popular Zhu Zhu toy is not out of compliance with the antimony or other heavy metal limits of the new U.S. mandatory toy standard," agency spokesman Scott Wolfson told AP.

Those limits came and stricter testing standards went into effect this year following a string of recalls of Chinese-made toys with dangerous levels of lead.

Instead of testing the toy, the CPSC observed that they toy didn't have any painted surfaces -- and thus was not subject to the new heavy metal testing standards, according to Gib Mullan, the agency's director of compliance and field operations.

Wolfson said the agency will do its own tests. But he said it was important to get out word immediately that the toy did not violate federal standards.

Toy makers, which say their products are safe and rigorously tested, have bristled at holiday-season studies by consumer groups and others.

"False, deceptive and misleading statements intended to needlessly scare parents cannot be tolerated," said Rick Locker, an attorney who represents the Toy Industry Association.

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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- A consumer group contends one of the holiday season's must-have toys is unsafe.

But the maker of the robotic Zhu Zhu Pets hamsters defended its product Saturday against a study by San Francisco-based GoodGuide that said higher-than-allowed levels of the chemical antimony were found in the toy.

Good Guide named Zhu Zhu Pets hamsters one of the top-selling toys with low ratings after finding antimony, which can cause health problems, on the hair and nose of one of the toy hamsters, called Mr. Squiggles.

The group assigned the toy, aimed at 3- to 10-year-olds, a rating of 5.2 on a 10-point scale.

But the toy's maker, St. Louis-based Cepia LLC, insisted in a statement that its product is safe and has passed rigorous testing. The company said it was contacting GoodGuide to share its testing data and determine how the report was founded.

"I have been in the toy industry for more than 35 years, and being a father of children myself, I would never allow any substandard or unsafe product to hit the shelves," Russ Hornsby, Cepia's CEO, said in the statement.

Zhu Zhu Pets, which retail for about $10, have become this season's toy craze, following in the footsteps of Tickle Me Elmo and Cabbage Patch Kids. The items fetch $40 or more on resale Web sites like eBay and Craigslist.

That's what brought it to GoodGuide's attention. GoodGuide CEO Dara O'Rourke told The Associated Press on Saturday that his group bought three of each of the year's 30 hottest toys and tested them multiple times.

Antimony was measured at 93 parts per million in the hamster's fur and at 106 parts per million in its nose. Both readings exceed the allowable level of 60 parts per million, said O'Rourke, an associate professor of environmental science at the University of California, Berkeley.

O'Rourke said GoodGuide's test results, released Friday, also indicated the possibility that some toys contained phthalates, chemicals that were subject to tougher standards in the Consumer Protection Safety Improvement Act passed last year.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

 

A spokesman for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission told The Associated Press the toy "is not out of compliance" with a new U.S. toy safety law that began taking effect this year.

The California-based consumer group GoodGuide raised concerns this weekend over the presence of a potentially harmful heavy metal in a Mr. Squiggles model of the robotic hamsters that it tested. The group said its testing found excessive levels of antimony, a heavy metal that can cause heart and lung problems, on the toy's hair and nose.

But the group said Monday that its testing method doesn't match federal testing standards and shouldn't be compared. And the CPSC quickly reached the conclusion that the toys, which retail for about $10, are safe.

"CPSC confirmed today that the popular Zhu Zhu toy is not out of compliance with the antimony or other heavy metal limits of the new U.S. mandatory toy standard," agency spokesman Scott Wolfson told AP.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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