Mattel Identifies Manufacturer Responsible For Supplying 967,000 Tainted Toys

Mattel is blaming a potentially bankrupt cardboard box vendor for supplying 967,000 toys covered with lead paint. The toy maker publicly identified the Lee Der Industrial Company in Guangdong province in the hopes that other toy makers will take their business elsewhere. The AP tried to call Lee Der for comment, which resulted in this odd exchange:

A man at a Lee Der Industrial Company in Guangdong province said it made cardboard boxes, not toys, while a woman who answered the phone at another number listed under the name said that company had gone bankrupt several years ago.

U.S. companies are not required by law to disclose the names of manufacturers involved in voluntarily recalls. Mattel announced Lee Der’s identity after completing an internal investigation, saying: “We do not consider safety to be a competitive advantage.” It is impossible to tell if Lee Der’s baffling response is an indication that Chinese manufacturers haven’t quite mastered the nuances of damage control, or a sign that the AP was dialing the wrong phone number.

Mattel Identifies Vendor in Toy Recall [AP]
(Photo: Sunfox)

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  1. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    The word of the day is…..”TAINT!”

    So there is no way of finding out what this company does beyond calling and asking? It isn’t documented anywhere?

  2. axiomatic says:

    obligatory “salad tossing” comment in 3..2..1…

  3. SaveMeJeebus says:

    Well, at least they weren’t taint toys. That would be gross right down there with the taint peanut butter.

  4. rekoil says:

    @AlteredBeast: Given that the country is in China, probably not in a way that a reporter can easily navigate if he or she is under a deadline…

  5. bohemian says:

    I think the solution to this is to put all of the responsibility on the US company or US importer. They need to start some sort of approved manufacturing facility program with a facility number. Make the US manufacturers responsible for what goes on there and any misdeed that factory commits.

    US companies love to be able to use contracted factories to distance themselves from the horrible working conditions and dangerous corner cutting. I worked for and with a couple of US companies that tried to hide the fact that their very expensive high end products were not made in US but really made in China. This went as far as photoshopping out the skin tone and faces of factory workers in China for promotional materials. They retouch photos or cut people out to make it look like a non asian factory. One company put the “made in china” in french on their boxes.

    When companies are looking at not only losing their reputation but losing the entire company to a lawsuit or two they might finally start being honest. Well as honest as we can force them to be.

  6. rekoil says:

    s/country/company

  7. miborovsky says:

    @bohemian: fabrique en chine? How could anyone not understand that’s “Made In China”? I don’t even speak French. Only in America…

  8. timmus says:

    With a name like that, isn’t identifying the correct company about as futile as finding, say, “Shanghai Group Ltd”? Or a restaurant called the “Country Kitchen” in the United States?

  9. erica.blog says:

    Given the complexity (i.e. disorganization) of industry and communications in China, it’s probably a combination of “the AP found the wrong company” and “Lee Der makes lots of things including cardboard boxes, toxic paint for toys, and exploding botulism antifreeze toothpaste”

  10. Trai_Dep says:

    @miborovsky: Red State people.

  11. Trai_Dep says:

    If the company had a cat THAT cute for their mascot, I’d let them slide a couple dozen brain-damaged American children.

    Sigh. Second strike against Chinese shoddy marketing. Hang ‘em high!

  12. Katchoo says:

    Soooo, how is it that a cardboard box manufacturer is responsible for toys painted with lead? Does Lee Der use lead-based packing peanuts for shipping? Is each toy licked by an employee whose body produces lead-like saliva?

    Mattel, take the blindfold off and stop throwing darts at that chinese phonebook you have. If you don’t know who the hell paints your toys, then you should have to lick each tainted toy yourself.

  13. shoegazer says:

    Having worked in China, it’s odds on that AP contacted the wrong company, unless Mattel actually gave them the contact info. There were four “Hai Er Electronics” companies in Guangzhou, and each one made cheap TVs, back when I was there.

  14. topgun says:

    I would like to think that companies as large as Mattel and Fisher Price would do their own internal tests on the first batch that arrives. It would be so less costly than a recall. Duh what’s wrong with me? It probably makes too much sense.