Chinese toxic toys

US toy maker Mattel’s ongoing review into its inventory of products manufactured in China has led to a third toy recall – and this time it’s Barbie that gets it in the neck (well, her ‘playsets’, that is).

Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

Panic over levels of lead in the paint used has led to a recall of nearly 850,000 toys, the majority of which has been distributed within the US. Mattel’s chief exec Robert Eckert has said that Mattel faces increased costs because of the testing programs and monitoring of its own Chinese manufacturing plants and those of subcontractors that it has now instigated. But surely the question is why this hadn’t been done already?

Is it too easy in a globalised supply chain for those in the exec suite on one side of the world to wash their hands of what happens on the factory floor on the other side? Is it unrealistic for us to expect them to know exactly which ingredients a sub-subcontracted toy factory uses in its paint?

In a business environment where consumers trust big business to do the right thing, and where corporate reputation counts for everything, then the answer must surely be yes. Though some of the blame for unsafe toy manufacture should be put at the door of squeezed suppliers, desperate to fulfil their contracts on the tight margins they have to work with, surely more should be meted out to those with ultimate responsibility for the integrity of a brand - that is, those at the very top of the chain?

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