Mattel settles with N.C. over tainted toys

Posted December 15, 2008 11:28 a.m. EST
Updated December 15, 2008 6:08 p.m. EST

— Toy giant Mattel has agreed to follow stricter safety standards for lead paint in its toys and will pay $12 million to North Carolina and 37 other states to settle claims over a massive toy recall last year.

“Toys should help our children have fun, not put them in danger,” Attorney General Roy Cooper said in a statement. “This agreement adds extra safety measures to protect kids and give parents some peace of mind.”

Under the agreement, Mattel and its subsidiary Fisher Price will follow tougher standards for accessible lead in toys. The company must also pay $12 million to the states, including $262,126 to North Carolina.

About 2 million Mattel and Fisher-Price toys manufactured in China were recalled last year because of concerns that the toys contained excessive lead.

At the time of the recalls, federal standards called for lead levels in accessible surface coatings not to exceed 600 parts per million. According to an investigation by the states' attorneys general, tests of some of the recalled toys found lead levels between 10,000 and 50,000 parts per million.

The settlement requires stricter standards for Mattel and Fisher Price toys manufactured after Nov. 30. Congress tightened the standards for lead in surface coatings and substrates, effective next February, but Mattel agreed with the attorneys general to phase in the new standards before the time required under the federal law.

Mattel also agreed to maintain at least four years of records for subcontractors that manufacture parts for its toys, including records of lead screenings and results. Mattel will notify the attorneys general if it finds excessive lead in any of its products in violation of state or federal law or this agreement, and will work with the states to remedy such violations.

“Keep toy safety in mind when you shop for holiday presents,” Cooper said. “Make sure the gifts you choose for kids are safe and age-appropriate.”