Could a consumer group's report lead to a Zhu Zhu pet recall?

A consumer group's test says a Zhu Zhu pets recall might be in order after toxic chemicals were discovered on Mr. Squiggles.

Laguna Niguel/Newscom
A consumer group's report says levels of two toxic chemicals are too high in Zhu Zhu pets, this year's hot holiday children's toy. Could that lead to a Zhu Zhu pets recall?

Could Mr. Squiggles be harboring too much of two toxic metals? That's the opinion of Good Guide, which released a review Friday in which it found potentially unsafe levels of tin and antimony on Mr. Squiggles. The report raises questions about whether there will be a Zhu Zhu pets recall.

The company that manufactures Zhu Zhu pets, Cepia LLC, reacted strongly to the news, maintaining that there is nothing wrong with its motorized hamsters.

"We are disputing the findings of Good Guide and we are 100 percent confident that Mr. Squiggles, and all other Zhu Zhu Toys, are safe and compliant with all U.S. and European standards for consumer health and safety in toys,” said Russ Hornsby, CEO of Cepia LLC, the company that makes Zhu Zhu pets, in a press release.

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 limits antimony to no more than 60 parts per million. Good Guide says it found 93 ppm in Mr. Squiggles' fur and 103 in its nose.

Tests in animals have attributed a series of ailments large-scale consumption of antimony, the Department of Health and Human Services' (DHHS) Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease says. Yet the DHHS also says it does not "know what other health effects would occur to people who swallow antimony."

As for tin, the toy industry currently upholds no voluntary standard for acceptable levels of the metal. While acceptable levels for different metals vary widely, consumers can come into contact with tin in some simple ways. Levels of tin approaching 100 ppm in unlacquered tin cans — like those containing light-colored fruit because tin helps maintain the fruit's color — are possible, according to the DHHS registry. Almost 90 percent of cans, however, are lacquered, according to the registry.

The registry goes on to say, "there are no reports of adverse developmental effects in humans exposed to tin or its compounds, or of inorganic tin in animals."


David Grant is a Monitor correspondent. Are you sending back your Zhu Zhu? Let us know on Twitter.

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