Zhu Zhu Pets Called Unsafe

Zhu Zhu Pets, the robotic hamster toys that have been getting much attention in social media, have now been found to be unsafe, according to GoodGuide,  an organization that, per its Web site, “provides the world’s largest and most reliable source of information on the health, environmental, and social impacts of the products in your home.” The group reported higher-than-acceptable levels of tin and antimony in one of the pets. The heavy metal antimony, which can cause health problems,  was included in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), which mandates tougher standards for toy safety. The CPSIA  1) “lowers lead in toys to some of the lowest levels in the world, 2) bans certain phthalates from toys, and 3) puts federal limits on heavy metals like antinomy from being in surface coating on toys,” according to Walletpop.com.

According to the Huffington Post, antimony was measured at 93 parts per million in the hamster’s fur and at 106 parts per million in its nose. “Both readings exceed the allowable level of 60 parts per million,” said Dara O’Rourke, an associate professor of environmental science at the University of California, Berkeley and GoodGuide’s CEO.

In the same story, O’Rourke said GoodGuide’s test results, released Friday, also indicated the possibility that some toys contained phthalates.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is taking the safety claims about Zhu Zhu pets seriously and conducting an  investigation. Cepia, the manufacturer of the line, disputes the findings.

The news about Zhu Zhu pets’ safety raises three key questions:

1. If the product is indeed unsafe, how did it make it to market? The toy industry has been particularly aware of and sensitive to dangerous elements in toys ever since the news about lead in toys made in China permeated media and impacted parents’ shopping lists during the 2007 holiday season.

2. How did GoodGuide do its research, and what did it do that Cepia did not? Are GoodGuide’s criteria and tests reasonable? 

3. What will moms do now? Will they give in to their child’s request for the product or err on the side of caution when it comes to their child’s health?

Your thoughts?