Mattel. The name is no longer only synonymous with Barbie, Hot Wheels, and Polly Pocket. Now when you hear “Mattel”, it’s flashback time: to lead-laden, choketastic toys.
When the Consumer Products Safety Commission was charged with implementing the new CPSIA, designed to make toys safer, fans of handcrafted goods worried: would we still be able to get our beloved natural toys? After all, toy testing for lead and phthalates has a price tag attached that is harder on the small business owner than it is on corporate giants like Mattel.
Turns out, it’s especially easy for Mattel, as the toy manufacturer gets to use “independent” in-house testing instead of submitting its toys to third-party testing like everyone else, as the AP reports,
The Consumer Product Safety Commission recently, and quietly, granted Mattel’s request to use its own labs for testing.
Although I’d love to not be too cynical on this, guess what? Coincidentally, Mattel spent $1 million last year in lobbying costs.
Earlier this year, as you may remember, Mattel was ordered to pay $2.3 million in fines for violating lead laws.
At the time, the acting chair of the CPSC said of the record-setting penalty,
This penalty should serve notice to toymakers that CPSC is committed to the safety of children, to reducing their exposure to lead and to the implementation of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.
Yeah….you sure showed them. Especially that whole bit about the “test your own” toys. Whee!
In their defense, Mattel spokeswoman Lisa Marie Bongiovanni said the company has a failsafe: a “firewall” so the corporate interests wouldn’t interfere with the quality of the tests. Presumably made of Legos? (Oh wait, that’s not Mattel.)
We have extremely qualified people who work feet away from our production lines. It allows us to do more testing than any other toy company out there.
I’m sure that close proximity is also convenient for elbow nudging, too. Wow and Gee Whiz! What does Mattel think they’re playing us for?