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Hasbro ads to say it had no lead-paint recalls

The world's second-largest toy company plans to take out newspaper ads to distance itself from a string of lead paint recalls that have plagued its competitors.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Hasbro, Inc., the world's second-largest toy company, plans to take out newspaper ads to distance itself from a string of lead paint recalls that have plagued its competitors, Hasbro Chief Executive Alfred J. Verrecchia said Thursday.

The ad, in the form of a letter to consumers, will appear in newspapers next week, Verrecchia said. He did not immediately have details on where and when it would appear, but said the message will be that Hasbro has had no recalls for lead or other dangerous chemicals, and people can feel good about buying Hasbro toys and games.

"Our standards meet or, certainly in the lead paint case, exceed the federal standards, and we have a very robust testing and inspection process in place to ensure that those standards are being adhered to," he said. "We believe that's why we've avoided the recalls."

Millions of Chinese-made toys have been recalled this year due to high levels of lead, including Mattel toys featuring Big Bird and Dora the Explorer and RC2 Corp.'s Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway. Earlier this month, Aqua Dots, made in China and distributed in the U.S. by Spin Master, were recalled because the product was tainted with a date rape drug.

Although Pawtucket-based Habsro has not had any recalls for lead, it did recall about 1 million Easy-Bake ovens earlier this year after reports of about 250 children getting their hands caught in the oven's front opening. Dozens were burned, and a 5-year-old girl had her finger partially amputated.

Jim Silver, editor in chief of Toy Wishes consumer magazine, called the ad a "statement of extreme confidence" that indicates Hasbro is sure it does not have a problem with lead safety. But he said he doubts it will have much affect on what consumers buy this season.

"If they want a Wii system, if they want a Hannah Montana doll, if they want a Transformer, they're going to end up buying the toy the kids want," he said.

Chris Byrne, an independent toy analyst, said parents he's talked to around the country are still buying toys, but they're scared and ill-informed.

"Every toy that comes from China has been suspect in the consumer mind," he said. "That's completely not true."

There is a risk for Hasbro should it be caught up in a lead-related recall, Byrne said.