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Brussels, 25 October 2007

Toy safety – Mattel recall on lead paint toys

Speaking today following the announcement of a recall by Mattel of Go Diego Go (Animal Rescue Boat) toys of their Fisher-Price brand, sold in the UK, Ireland, US and Canada due to excessive levels of lead in paint, EU Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva made it clear that recalling goods from the market is a last resort for industry. With effective controls all along the supply chain, dangerous goods should not be reaching supermarket shelves or arrive in the hands of children at home. Commissioner Kuneva said the fact that the European Commission had, on this occasion, received prior notice before the recall from Mattel is a sign that some of the intensive work with industry in recent months is starting to pay off. In this way, the European Commission is able to provide advice to companies on the recall process if necessary and to circulate to all EU Member Sates authorities full information through the EU RAPEX (Rapid Alert System) system for dangerous consumer goods. This fourth Mattel recall comes as the European Commission is in the final stages of a 2 month review of the consumer product safety mechanisms in place in Europe. Commissioner Kuneva will present the results of this stocktaking and analysis on the EU China (RAPEX) report on Chinese enforcement actions, on 22 November 2007 in Brussels.

Commenting on the Mattel recall, Commissioner Kuneva said, there can be no compromise on consumer safety. My starting point is that dangerous goods should not be able to pass unchecked through all the supply chain to reach shop floors or be sold to parents for children's use at home. There is more work to be done to step up controls. The decision by Mattel to provide advance information to the European Commission and the concerned national authorities is a welcome step in the right direction. Commissioner Kuneva added, I will present the full stocktaking results in November but my central message is already very clear – to face up to the emerging challenges of managing global supply chains, several key actors are going to have to significantly raise their game. Open markets are built on consumer confidence. Following my meeting with Consumer ministers in September we had a common understanding to work together to step up action to build consumer confidence in the market. I will discuss proposals for specific actions with my colleagues in the Competitiveness Council on 22 November 2007.


On 29 August 2007, Commissioner Kuneva informed her colleagues in the European Commission of her intention to carry out a review, using the case of the Mattel recalls over Commission of her intention to carry out a review, using the case of the Mattel recalls over the summer to review the strengths and weaknesses of the consumer product safety mechanisms currently in place in Europe. The review has involved extensive work with national surveillance authorities, the Chinese authorities, the US authorities, the European toy industry, retailers, as well as consultations with the European Parliament.

Commissioner Kuneva and Verheugen has established an internal Commission interservice working group with the participation of Cabinets Mandelson, Kovács, Ferrero-Waldner, Kyprianou to feed into the process. For full details of stocktaking process see MEMO/07/344.

Commissioner Kuneva will participate in the following key events before the conclusions of the review are presented to the College and published on 22 November 2007:

  • 31 October, Brussels - Meeting with Retail Associations – Euro Commerce and European Retailers Round Table (Cabinet level);
  • 5 November, Brussels - Meeting Commissioner Kuneva with the CEO's of the Toy manufacturers;
  • 9 November, Washington, USA - Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) meeting on consumer product safety with Vice President Verheugen. Commissioner Kuneva will also have meetings with the US Administration on EU and US co-operation on import safety controls and consumer product safety mechanism;
  • 21 November, Hamburg, Germany - Visit to Customs authorities at the Port of Hamburg, launch of Baltic States co-operation project;
  • 22 November - Press Conference, European Commission, Brussels.

What is RAPEX

RAPEX is an EU-wide rapid alert system for non-food dangerous products, coordinated by the Commission and linking market surveillance authorities in 30 European countries. When authorities take restrictive measures (ban on sale, withdrawal from the market, recall from consumers) concerning a product posing a serious risk for the health and safety of consumers, they must notify the Commission which validates the notifications, translates it and distributes it to the authorities in all other MS – there is then a formal obligation on Member State Authorities to take follow up measures on their national markets and to inform the Commission.

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