Earlier this week in Iowa, I discussed the continuing threat of unsafe imported toys and laid out a strategy to confront it. In response, the Chinese government called my criticisms ‘slander.’
“This is the same government that just this month revoked the licenses of more than 750 of its toy companies because of quality control problems and ordered another 690 to renovate or improve their facilities, even as it asserted that 99 percent of toy exports met quality standards. And the Chinese government's watchdog agency reported earlier this year that 20 percent of the toys made and sold in China pose safety risks. That is unacceptable.
“As the holiday shopping season begins, our government should be taking immediate, decisive steps to ensure that the toys we are importing from China and other countries are safe. After months of high-profile recalls of some of the most popular toys on the shelves, we have real cause for concern. Parents should not have to worry whether the toys they buy this holiday season are safe for their children.
“The facts speak for themselves. This year alone, we have seen 36 recalls of lead-coated Chinese-made toys – 5.5 million total toys, including Curious George dolls, Thomas and Friends toy trains, Winnie the Pooh playsets, and even Elmo and Big Bird. We have seen the recall of Chinese-made toy eyeballs containing kerosene. And the United States is not the only country dealing with this challenge. The European Union reports that toys topped the list of Chinese products most likely to trigger product-safety alerts last year, and the EU has warned China that it will take strong action if China does not improve the quality and safety of its toys and other products.
“American companies have their own important role to play in keeping our children safe. They have to do a better job at every stage of the process, from design through production and shipping, to make sure that the toys they are bringing into this country -- and profiting from -- do not pose risks to children. My toy safety agenda also imposes new obligations on these companies.
“In America in 2007, the products Americans buy should be safe and secure. As President, I would:
- Immediately require independent third-party testing for at-risk imported toys to ensure they are safe before they can be put on our shelves and sold.
- Dramatically increase the number of product inspectors and deploy them as part of a strategy to meet the threat posed by imported toys.
- Establish a complete ban on lead in children's products.
- Increase and enforce both civil and criminal penalties for violators.
- Require selected companies to pay a bond pending completion of third party testing to protect consumers and taxpayers from fly-by-night foreign importers.
- Improve our system of toy recalls so that parents get swift notification and companies face swift sanctions if they don't remove recalled products from their shelves.”