US, Mega Brands expand toy recall as injuries rise

US, Mega Brands expand toy recall as injuries rise
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First Published: Fri, Apr 20 2007. 03 19 AM IST
Updated: Fri, Apr 20 2007. 03 19 AM IST
New York: A US consumer safety agency and Mega Brands Inc. recalled an additional four million of the company’s Magnetix building sets after more children swallowed magnets, causing injuries that required surgery.
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission received 23 reports of serious intestinal injuries since the 31 March, 2006, recall of 3.8 million of the sets, Julie Vallese, an agency spokeswoman, said on 19 April in an interview. The first recall came after magnets became separated from the toy blocks, causing one death and four serious injuries.
Consumers reported at least 1,500 cases of detached magnets, the safety agency said. Mega Brands, the world’s second- largest maker of toy blocks, recalled all Magnetix sets without a warning label. The company put a caution message on products sold after the initial recall and faces lawsuits over the toys.
“Mega Brands has done everything they needed to do to improve the quality of the Magnetix product and make sure the magnets don’t fall out,” said Gerrick Johnson, an analyst at BMO Capital Markets in New York. “The problem is that they didn’t get all the old, defective product out of the hands of consumers.”
Swallowing Hazards
Children who swallow more than one magnet, or a magnet and a metal object, may suffer intestinal damage if magnets stick together. Last year’s recall was prompted by the death of a 20- month-old boy from intestinal blockage.
Almost all of the latest injuries reported required emergency surgery, the agency said. Some of these incidents occurred before the 31 March, 2006, recall, Vallese said. Today’s recall includes all Magnetix sets sold before that date.
People who’ve bought the toy set can return it and receive another Mega Brands product, said Alex Radmanovich, a spokesman for the company, which also makes blocks based on the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films.
“There have been incidents since the 31March, 2006, recall,” Radmanovich said today in an interview. “This is a reminder to people that there is a replacement program.”
The agency said in a release that initial incidents were believed to affect only children younger than six and reports showed that at least 10 injuries that involved children between six and 11 years old.
Magnetix magnetic building sets are labeled for children six and older.
Mega Brands spent $15.5 million to settle four lawsuits, 10 claims and related legal fees in 2006, Radmanovich said. Three lawsuits are outstanding, he said.
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First Published: Fri, Apr 20 2007. 03 19 AM IST