4.4 million Mattel ‘Polly Pocket’ toys recalled after kids swallow magnets

December 10, 2006

A consumer research group called for warning labels on toys with magnets after more than 4 million Mattel play sets were recalled over injuries to several children who swallowed magnets that fell off.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission, which announced the recall of magnetic Polly Pocket sets as the holiday gift-buying season begins, urged shoppers to avoid buying toy sets with small magnets for children under six.

The Polly Pocket recall does not include sets currently on store shelves. Mattel redesigned those sets to make them safer, said CPSC Spokesman Scott Wolfson.

Wolfson said the government is “actively pursuing new voluntary standards” from toy makers. “That work is being pursued not at the mandatory level but the voluntary level right now,” he said.

The commission received 170 reports of the small magnets falling from Polly Pocket dolls and accessories. Three children swallowed more than one magnet and suffered intestinal perforation that required surgery. If more than one magnet is swallowed, they can attach to each other and cause intestinal perforation, infection or blockage, which can be fatal.

“Swallowing a magnet is not like swallowing a penny,” said Alison Cassady, research director of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group in a statement that accompanied its annual toy safety survey. “Powerful magnets can wreak havoc inside the body.”

Sara Rosales, vice president of communications at Mattel, said the company is working with others in the toy industry, consumer advocates and the government “to make appropriate revisions to the U.S. toy standard to prevent such issues in the future,” Rosales said.

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