Toy Company Fined For Antibacterial Claims

SUNDAY, APRIL 20, 1997

Toy giant Hasbro Inc. was fined $120,000 and ordered to retract claims that its new antibacterial toys will protect children from germs.

Hasbro spokesman Wayne Charness complained the penalty was “unwarranted” but said the company will not appeal Friday’s order from the Environmental Protection Agency.

“It’s a nuance of language; we think we’ve been making appropriate claims from the beginning,” he said Saturday.

Nine of Hasbro’s Playskool toys are treated with the antibacterial agent Microban, which is permanently bonded in tiny pellets to plastic or fiber. Hasbro officials claimed it stopped mold, mildew, fungi and bacteria, including E. coli, staph, salmonella and strep.

Microban is registered by the EPA as inhibiting bacterial growth in plastic but has not been approved for public health claims for humans, the EPA said.

The agency ordered Hasbro to relabel products on store shelves within 90 days and change all future packaging of Microban-treated toys that claim health benefits.

Labeling will change from “Protect your child from germs and bacteria” to “Microban - built in to protect the toy; inhibits the growth of bacteria,” Charness said.

Pawtucket-based Hasbro also was told to publish advertisements in Parents, Child, American Baby and Parenting magazines and USA Today, stating that Microban inhibits bacterial growth on the toys but won’t guard children from germs.

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