December 7, 2009

Zhu Zhu Toys Deemed Unsafe

Zhu Zhu Pets hamsters, the holiday season's must-have toy, have been found to be unsafe and possibly toxic.

The Zhu Zhu Pets hamsters apparently have a higher-than-allowed level of a chemical called antimony, which could lead to health problems in children.

The consumer group that did the review of the product also found dangerous levels of tin in the product. On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the safest possible toy, the Zhu Zhu Pets hamster only received a 5.2.

But the toy's maker, St. Louis-based Cepia LLC, insisted in a statement that its product is safe and has passed rigorous testing. The company said it was contacting GoodGuide to share its testing data and determine how the report was founded.

Russ Hornsby, Cepia's CEO, said, "I have been in the toy industry for more than 35 years, and being a father of children myself, I would never allow any substandard or unsafe product to hit the shelves."

Zhu Zhu Pets, which retail for about $10, have become this season's toy craze, following in the footsteps of Tickle Me Elmo and Cabbage Patch Kids. The items fetch $40 or more on resale Web sites like eBay and Craigslist.

That's what brought it to GoodGuide's attention. GoodGuide CEO Dara O'Rourke told The Associated Press on Saturday that his group bought three of each of the year's 30 hottest toys and tested them multiple times.

According to the Good Guide Consumer Group, antimony is a metal that has health effects that include possible cancer, lung, and heart problems and could also impact fertility. The problem with antimony is that it is used in the construction of this toy, and it can be released from the plastic in question during use.

On the positive side of things, the Zhu Zhu Pets hamsters show no signs of lead, mercury, PVC, cadmium, arsenic, or chromium, all which are dangerous things that can be found in some other children's toys.


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