Mattel has a lot to do to rebuild trust, EU consumer chief says

The European Union's consumer chief has asked Mattel Inc. for details of new quality control measures introduced since its recall of millions of Chinese-made toys and warned the company it faces a major task to rebuild trust in the industry.

Meglena Kuneva told the company Thursday that she would push for new EU rules if not enough was done to stop dangerous toys coming to market.

Mattel ordered three high-profile recalls this summer of millions of toys including Barbie doll accessories and toy cars because of concerns about lead paint and tiny magnets that could be swallowed.

The company's own tests found lead levels in paint in recalled toys as high as 200 times the accepted safety ceiling - 110,000 parts per million versus 600.

"I have made it clear that in the coming months I want to check all the links in the chain on product safety enforcement," said Kuneva after meeting Mattel vice president Bryan Stockton in Brussels to discuss the follow up to the recalls.

"My message to Mattel was that they have a lot of ground to cover to rebuild trust in the toy industry."

She said it was the legal responsibility of makers to ensure only safe toys hit shop shelves. Subcontracting work to other manufacturers was no excuse, she said.

Mattel is planning to upgrade its safety system by certifying suppliers and increasing the frequency of random, unannounced inspections, she said. It has fired several manufacturers.

EU officials have also warned China it may have to ban problem products if a report from Beijing due next month does not show that it has taken steps to improve the safety of a range of products, including toys.

Half of all unsafe imports found in the EU come from China - reflecting the huge volume of imports from the world's most populous nation to the EU's 490-million bloc.

China has become a center for the world's toy-making industry, exporting US$7.5 billion (EUR5.4 billion) worth of toys last year.

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Author`s name Angela Antonova