by Mitch Lipka Oct 1st 2009
Retail giant Target was hit with a $600,000 penalty by by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission for importing and selling hundreds of thousands of toys with excessive levels of lead paint --violating a 30-year ban.
Minneapolis-based Target Corp. agreed to the penalty to settle allegations the company imported a variety of toys with high levels of lead. The CPSC's staff accused Target of "knowingly" importing and selling the toys and failing "to take adequate action to ensure that no toys or children's products would bear lead-containing paint." Target denied those allegations.
Target officials could not immediately be reached for comment. The toys were imported and sold between May 2006 and August 2007 at Target stores nationwide. The lead-tainted toys include Kool Toyz Products, Anima - Bamboo Collection Games, Happy Giddy Gardening Tools and Sunny Patch Chairs. The toys were recalled in 2007. At the time, the CPSC said Target had sold 350,000 of them.
The federal ban on lead paint for toys has been in existence since 1978. Lead paint can lead to lead poisoning and a variety of negative health effects on children. CPSC issued a record 39 penalties in fiscal 2009 with a record $9.8 million assessed to companies - most of which were for lead paint violations and violations of a ban on drawstrings in children's clothing.
"These highly publicized toy recalls were among many that helped spur action last year to impose even stricter limits on lead paint on toys," CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum said in a statement. "This penalty should remind importers and retailers that they have always had the same obligation to meet the strict lead limits as the manufacturers."