LOS ANGELES – Dozens of members of Congress are demanding that Mattel Inc., the world’s largest toy maker, stop selling toys that contain any amount of lead, claiming the company is not going far enough to address safety concerns.
The demand was contained in a letter released Wednesday by Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat. It was signed by more than 50 fellow lawmakers and sent to Mattel on Tuesday.
The letter was the latest sent to Mattel in recent weeks by Cummings asking Chairman and Chief Executive Robert A. Eckert to eliminate the use of lead in toys manufactured by the El Segundo, Calif.-based company.
“We challenge you to … set a standard for the entire industry by completely eliminating the use of lead in all of the children’s products manufactured by Mattel,” Cummings wrote. The scrutiny follows the recall of millions of Chinese-made toys last year by the company because of concerns that lead content exceeded U.S. standards.
Cummings more recently claimed the company didn’t go far enough to address the discovery of “high levels” of lead on a red blood-pressure cuff in a toy medical kit sold under the Fisher-Price brand, a Mattel unit.
In the latest letter, Cummingscontended Mattel only removed the toy from stores in Illinois after state officials notified the company that tests showed the cuff contained levels of lead exceeding the state’s legal limits.
“Illinois has chosen a unique approach,” Mattel spokeswoman Lisa Marie Bongiovanni said in an e-mail Wednesday, noting that the toy in question met federal and European Union safety standards for lead content.
In a written response last week to a letter sent by Cummings in December, Mattel said tests of the toy medical kit had revealed “levels of lead that, though fully compliant with all federal and international standards, were higher than anticipated.” Bongiovanni also said Mattel encouraged consumers nationwide “from the beginning” to contact the company for a replacement cuff.