POLL: Zhu Zhu Pets - Do you feel safe?

December 7, 2009 6:26:12 PM PST
A consumer group has claimed it found high levels of a dangerous element in Zhu Zhu toy hamsters. Are you concerned?

The group Goodguide.com claims its X-ray tests showed higher than normal levels of antimony in the brown Zhu Zhu hamster Mr. Squiggles.

Antimony is an element that resembles a metal and is used in the making of polyester. It can cause headaches, dizziness and depression in small doses. Check the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information about antimony.

PHOTOS: The Zhu Zhu hamsters have been one of the toughest toys to find in the 2009 holiday season.

In an ABC News report on Good Morning America that aired Monday morning, a toxicologist claimed the group didn't use the industry accepted test. While the X-ray test showed a higher than normal level of antimony, the toxicologist asked by ABC News said the normal test - to show how much antimony is likely to come off of a product in normal use - showed that the Zhu Zhu Pets came in at acceptable levels.

Good Guide released a statement clarifying its toy testing methodology. It used an x-ray test which determines total contaminants present on the surface of a toy. That is not the government standard. The government looks at how much antimony can actually come off a toy.

"We're not recommending that you throw them away but if you're concerned about this we recommend you either call the company or return the product if you feel it's not safe enough for our kids."

The CEO of Cepia Corporation, the maker of Zhu Zhu pets says quote"
"I am pleased Good Guide has issued a clarification and acknowledged their testing led to confusion. Good Guide used an inferior testing methodology that has not been determined to be a reliable method by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The toy is 100 percent safe."

In fact, Cepia says every single one of its products exceed all consumer health or safety standards.

So, are you concerned? Will you return a brown Zhu Zhu hamster if you have one? Has this news changed your shopping plans for the holidays? Tell us in our Action News poll.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has promised swift review of the safety of the Zhu Zhu pets.

The toy "is not out of compliance" with a U.S. toy safety law that went into effect this year, a spokesman for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission told The Associated Press. The agency did not test the toy.

"CPSC confirmed today that the popular Zhu Zhu toy is not out of compliance with the antimony or other heavy metal limits of the new U.S. mandatory toy standard," agency spokesman Scott Wolfson said.

Instead of testing the toy, the CPSC observed that the toy didn't have any painted surfaces and thus was not subject to the new heavy metal testing standards, according to Gib Mullan, the agency's director of compliance and field operations.

The review was notably swift for the agency, which can take weeks or even months to investigate toys cited as problematic by consumer groups and others in holiday-season studies.

Wolfson said it was important to get out word immediately that the toy did not violate federal standards. He said the agency will do its own tests.

The stricter testing standards went into effect this year following a string of recalls of Chinese-made toys that had dangerous levels of lead. Antimony, which is used in a range of products including certain batteries and sheet metal, is one of several heavy metals that are now regulated under U.S. toy law.

Though the CPSC has delayed a requirement that toy makers or importers prove with a lab test that their products pass the new standards, companies are still required to abide by the law.

Many, like Cepia, have been doing testing even though they don't have to show the government the results - it was that testing that led the CPSC to conclude that the toys are safe.


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