Mattel apologises to China
2007/09/30
 

Mattel, the world's largest toy manufacturer, has issued an apology to China over a series of recent recalls of the company's Chinese-made toys.

Mattel's executive vice president, Thomas Debrowski, said on Friday in Beijing he apologised for damaging China's reputation admitting it targeted some toys that were not a health hazard. 
 
  
 

Mattel had come under scrutiny following the recall of about 21 million toys over five weeks, many because of excessive levels of lead paint.

"Our reputation has been damaged lately by these recalls," Debrowski told China's quality watchdog chief, Li Changjiang.
 

"Mattel takes full responsibility for these recalls and apologises personally to you, the Chinese people and all of our customers who received the toys."

Debrowski said he was fully aware of the damage that had been done to the reputation of Chinese goods.


He added that the company was committed to manufacturing in China and was also investing $30 million in a Barbie doll store in Shanghai.

"But it's important for everyone to understand that the vast majority of those products that we recalled were the result of a design flaw in Mattel's design, not through a manufacturing flaw in Chinese manufacturers."

Recalls unwarranted

The company also said in a statement that too many toys had been recalled, saying that was because it puts safety first.

"Mattel is committed to applying the highest standards of safety for its products.

"Consistent with this, Mattel's lead-related recalls were overly inclusive, including toys that may not have had lead in paint in excess of US standards."

"The follow-up inspections also confirmed that part of the recalled toys complied with the US standards."

Li, however, descibed the recalls as "unacceptable."

"You cannot recall 10,000 products just because one is substandard. This is unacceptable," he said.

But Li also struck a conciliatory tone with the company, which directly and indirectly employs thousands of Chinese.

"I appreciate your objective and responsible attitude towards the recalls and your sincere attitude towards our future cooperation."

Unsafe goods

The official Xinhua news agency quoted Li as saying that police had detained four Chinese nationals accused of having supplied one of Mattel's contract manufacturers, the Lida Toy Company, with the substandard paint behind the first recall in August.

Zhang Shuhong, Lida's boss and a Hong Kong businessman, killed himself after the recall.

"The four suspects can expect criminal sentences," Xinhua quoted Li as telling Debrowski.

China is a world leader in the toy-making industry, exporting more than 7 billion dollars worth of toys last year.
 

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