Mattel Recalls 844,000 Barbie, Other Toys With Lead (Update2)

By Heather Burke

Sept. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Mattel Inc., the world's largest toymaker, recalled 844,000 Chinese-made Barbie and Fisher-Price products whose paint may contain excessive levels of lead, its third recall in the past five weeks.

The recall includes Barbie kitchen, living room and other furniture items, Fisher-Price Geo Trax Locomotive toys and Bongo Band drums. No injuries have been reported, Mattel said.

Mattel has recalled about 21 million Chinese-made products in three separate instances because the toys contained unsafe levels of lead paint or had magnets that children may be able to swallow. The toymaker continues to find more defective products as it tests toys made from Chinese vendors.

``As a result of our ongoing investigation we discovered additional affected products,'' Chief Executive Officer Robert Eckert said in a statement. ``We apologize again to everyone affected and promise that we will continue to focus on ensuring the safety and quality of our toys.''

The toymaker, based in El Segundo, California, may have to find new sources of low-cost goods as China struggles to repair its reputation as an exporter. Mattel is pulling toys off shelves going into the holiday season, which accounted for 69 percent of 2006 sales. The world's most populous nation supplies 80 percent of the U.S. toy market.

``The only thing more frightening than these tainted toys from China falling into the hands of children is how powerless the very agency in charge of consumer protection is to stop it,'' New York Democratic Senator Charles Schumer said today in an e-mailed statement.

Global Recall

The recalled toys consisted of 522,000 in the U.S. and 322,000 internationally, Mattel said today in the statement. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported almost 774,000 toys in the U.S. are being recalled. Mattel couldn't immediately say why the two numbers differed.

Concerns over Chinese products increased earlier this year when melamine, used to make plastic, was found in pet food in the U.S. and blamed for killing cats and dogs, leading to a recall of more than 60 million cans by Menu Foods Ltd.

This year, 60 percent of all recalls by the CPSC were of Chinese-made products such as vitamins, chocolate and food, according to Schumer.

Lead may be toxic if ingested by children and can cause serious health effects, the CPSC said.

Shares of Mattel, which also makes Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars, rose 34 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $21.97 as of 4:25 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading before the recall announcement.

(Details on the products being recall can be found at  or  .)

To contact the reporter on this story: Heather Burke in New York at  .

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