Mattel dodges Trib-inspired toy-testing laws | Bleader

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Mattel dodges Trib-inspired toy-testing laws

Posted By on 09.03.09 at 11:29 AM

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You may recall that in 2007, the Chicago Tribune conducted an intensive investigation into lead-tainted toys, testing over 800 products and snaring Walgreens, Ty Girlz, and Baby Einstein products. Their "Kids At Risk" series also encompassed magnets, cribs, car seats, bassinets, and food.

Their watchdogging got a lot of attention, and in the wake of what Consumer Reports termed The Year of the Recall (PDF) , Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, sponsored by Bobby Rush.

Protecting kids! What could go wrong?

The actual writing of the bill, it turns out, inspiring the wonderful Reason subhed Hipster moms and conservative congressmen join forces against the regulatory state, in part because it imposed fairly substantial guidelines that treated toys like, say, raw meat: "the law requires every toymaker, distributor, or retailer who sells products in the U.S. to certify each of its models through third-party testing, labeling every item with an individual date and batch number." The hipster mom part comes in because of the burdens the CPSIA would place on small manufacturers or independent craftsmen.

Not that author Katherine Mangu-Ward wasn't hopeful the act could be improved: "With a one-year grace period for most of the industry, it may be possible to convert the stated sympathies of congressmen like Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) into legislation that will carve out an exception for most domestic small-scale toymakers."

So who's gotten an exception? Mattel.

Why? Lobbying.

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