Another Big Product Recall, Another Chinese Supplier Implicated

The phrase "Made in China" is on a roll, but not the kind of roll you'd wish on anyone. Toy maker Mattel announced a product recall for close to one million toys with popular kid brand names like Sesame Street's Elmo and Nick Jr.'s Dora the Explorer.

Mattel said in a statement issued Aug. 2 that it was voluntarily recalling "some products made by a contract manufacturer in China that were produced using a non-approved paint pigment containing lead." Go to Mattel's recall information site to find out which toys you need to grab from your toddler's hands.

Mattel's recall follows government warnings about tainted imports of toothepaste, farm-raised seafood, contaminated pet food and another lead-painted toy  collection in the popular Thomas the Tank Engine line.

It's incumbent on government officials, both in China and in destination markets like the United States, to get a handle on the quality and safety of goods headed to consumers.

But it's also important for global companies using far-flung suppliers to both vet them before working with them and to continue auditing their work as a partnership builds. It's also essential to monitor those goods along the way. For more about these issues, see What You Should Do About Tainted Goods from China and Other Global Supply Chain Risks.

This latest recall is a black eye not only for China, but also for Mattel, of course. In this story from The New York Times, there is one hint of the toy maker's acting on its own visibility into its supply chain: Mattel "prevented more than two-thirds of the 967,000 affected toys from reaching consumers by stopping the products in its distribution centers and contacting retailers like Wal-Mart, Target and Toys 'R' Us late late week."

But there's still the cost of a big recall, recovery and disposal: that leaves more than 300,000 of the tainted toys in the hands of consumers.

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Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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