Government slaps hefty $2 million fine on Daiso for lead in toys, other alleged violations

By Jennifer C. Kerr, AP
Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Daiso hit with big fine for lead-laden toys

WASHINGTON — Federal regulators on Tuesday slapped a hefty $2 million fine on U.S. subsidiaries of Japanese retailer Daiso following accusations that they imported lead-tainted toys and dangerous children’s products.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission also said the companies, based in California and Washington, would not be allowed to import children’s products until they are proven safe.

Since 2008, Daiso California LLC and Daiso Seattle LLC have had five recalls of 698 toys and other kids’ products. They included small wooden toys, stuffed animals, purses and ponchos and were sold in Daiso stores in California and Washington for under $5.

While the total number of recalled items was relatively small and no injuries were reported, the head of the commission says the civil penalty and consent decree barring imports sends a message.

“This landmark agreement for an injunction sets a precedent for any firm attempting to distribute hazardous products to our nation’s children,” commission Chairwoman Inez Tenenbaum said. “We are committed to the safety of children’s products, and we will use the full force of our enforcement powers to prevent the sale of harmful products.”

Yoshi Murata, a senior executive at Daiso, said the company accepts the fine and wants to make sure the products it imports are safe. He said the company has also initiated a new program for product quality and safety.

“We know we must comply,” Murata said in a phone interview with The Associated Press.

CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson said the company had been warned several times about violating safety standards.

The commission accused Daiso of importing, distributing and selling toys with illegal levels of lead content, illegal levels of lead paint and phthalates, small parts on toys intended for young children, and products that lack required warning labels.

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