skip to content

Another Toy Recall: Is It Time to Boycott Chinese-made Toys?

Another Toy Recall: Is It Time to Boycott Chinese-made Toys?

Aqua Dots are the latest in a growing list of Chinese-made toys that have been recalled in the United States due to the danger they pose to American children.

November 8, 2007 —

On November 7, Aqua Dots, a popular toy in the U.S., was recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) after two children had fallen into comas from swallowing individual beads.  This followed incidents in Australia, where a two-year-old and a ten-year-old each fell into comas after eating the beads.  An Australian biochemist found that a well-known ‘date rape’ drug was one of the ingredients in the coating.  Aqua Dots are made in China, which following on the footsteps of recent recalls due to dangerous levels of lead in children’s toys made in China, has many consumers asking an important question: should consumers boycott all toys made in China until they know their children are safe?

In October, Australian biochemists began to study the chemicals in the beads (known as Bindeez Beeds in Australia, where they were named the ‘Toy of the Year’), and found the presence of gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB), a well known ‘date rape’ drug.  In both Australia and the U.S., children swallowed the small beads and became sick.  GHB is known to cause unconsciousness, seizures, drowsiness, comas, and even death.  The recall was a shock to the toy industry and was seen as a guaranteed seller as the holiday season approached.  Toys ‘R’ Us put a ‘stop’ on the entire Aqua Dots line (sold by Spin Master in the U.S.) while investigations continue.  In a separate recall on the same day, an additional 400,000 toys, mostly cars made in China, were also recalled because they contained dangerous levels of lead. 

Safety concerns over toys made in China have increased in 2007 as recalls of millions of toys made national news and spurred parents across the country to demand for additional safety measures.  About 80 percent of all toys in the U.S. market are made in China, and the Aqua Dots recall illustrates that American companies are unable to enforce standards as some Chinese manufacturers continue to produce unsafe toys.  An article in The Nation explained that the United States allows certain toxins in toys.  In particular, phthalates, a chemical banned in toys by the European Union, remains a widely used ingredient in the U.S. 

In 2006, an attempt to ban phthalates in California was opposed by American toy companies, especially Mattel and Hasbro, since scientists have not definitively linked phthalates to deformities such as sexual malformation (the bill passed in 2007 and will go into effect in 2008).  Mattel, at the center of the recall storm during the summer of 2007, has admitted to making mistakes regarding toys made in China and has vowed to establish stricter standards.  Nonetheless, some activists have continued to argue that only active preventive measures will ensure that toxins are not used in toys.

While the debate over government regulation continues to rage, the issue raises an important question for consumers – in this case, parents.  Is it time to take a more active role and boycott toys made in China until they know that they are safe?

Comment on this article:

Buy It

Don't Buy It

  • Racial profiling and discrimination
  • Altria? Formerly known as Philip Morris
  • Weapons-maker. Multiple environmental offender.
  • Unethical marketing of baby formula in developing nations
  • World's largest oil company--human rights, oil spills and misinformation about climate change