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Another Chinese toy recall: Aquadots = date rape drug

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By Michelle Malkin  •  November 8, 2007 10:28 AM

aqua dots

Taking a little break from politics and the war for a moment to do some momblogging:

I bought Aqua Dots for my kids over the weekend. It’s this year’s “Floam”–advertised ubiquitously, arts-and-crafty, irresistible. What are they? They’re little beads that stick together when you spray them; you use them to make little trinkets, cute animals, etc. I wondered in passing what they might be made of, but didn’t give it much thought. Who would have guessed date rape drug chemicals:

More than four million Chinese-made toys sold in the U.S. as Aqua Dots are being recalled after reports surfaced that children swallowed beads containing a chemical found to mimic the effects of the so-called date-rape drug.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission said it has received two reports of children swallowing Aqua Dots and slipping into comas. Both children are now fine, the commission said. At least three children have been hospitalized in Australia, where the product is called Bindeez, after ingesting beads from the toy.

The incident deals a blow to the toy industry just as the Christmas shopping season is getting under way. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. listed the product as one of its “Top 12 Toys of Christmas.” Wal-Mart has instituted an “electronic stop” at its cash registers to prevent further Aqua Dots sales and directed employees to remove the toys from its shelves, according to a spokeswoman. Toys “R” Us said it has pulled the toy in the U.S., and the toy was removed from other major Web sites and stores, including Amazon.com and Target.

The recall highlights a common practice in Chinese factories: cutting costs by substituting ingredients. The toy’s manufacturer, Moose Enterprise, of Melbourne, Australia, yesterday said the problem had been traced to a Chinese factory it contracted that substituted a toxic chemical for a safe glue during manufacturing.

Moose declined to name the manufacturer but said the beads contained an adhesive solvent called “1,4 butylene glycol,” which can simulate the so-called date-rape drug gamma hydroxy butyrate when ingested, causing seizures, coma or death. The toy hasn’t been linked to any deaths.

You know, in California, there’s a toxic substance law passed by environmental zealots called Prop. 65 that requires labeling of practically every product that contains potentially carcinogenic or teratogenic substance, no matter the dose or exposure.

Given the spate of Chinese toy recalls, it might be far more helpful to parents to know which kids’ products are made in corner-cutting China’s factories. How about 20-point font warning labels with “MADE IN CHINA” and “THIS TOY MANUFACTURED BY THE MAKERS OF DATE RAPE DRUG MIMICKING AQUA DOTS?”

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On a more positive note, Glenn Reynolds is toy-blogging, too. His nephew gives the Fisher-Price Smart Cycle a thumbs-up.

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