2007 Chinese export recalls

2007 Chinese export recalls

In 2007 a series of product recalls and import bans were imposed by the product safety institutions of the United States, Canada, the European Union, Australia and New Zealand against products manufactured in and exported from the mainland of the People's Republic of China (PRC) because of numerous alleged consumer safety issues.

Events in the confidence crisis included recalls on consumer goods such as pet food, toys, toothpaste, lipstick, and a ban on certain types of seafood. Also included are reports on the poor crash safety of Chinese automobiles, slated to enter the American and European markets in 2008. This has created adverse consequences for the confidence in the safety and quality of mainland Chinese manufactured goods in the global economy.


Pet food

On March 15, 2007, a Canadian pet food manufacturer notified the US Food and Drug Administration that animals had died after eating its products. The next day, popular brands of pet food were withdrawn across the US while the FDA began its search for the cause. The prime suspect was contamination indicated by the presence of melamine, an industrial chemical found in plastics and resins. The FDA examined 210 samples of pet food and ingredients in six field laboratories. Of those, 130 tested positive for melamine either in the food itself or in wheat gluten used to thicken the gravy accompanying it. Researchers at Cornell University found crystals of melamine and cyanuric acid in urine and kidney tissue taken from dead cats, New Scientist reported.[1] 'How melamine might have got into the pet food remains controversial,' the journal added. 'The FDA says it originated in wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate imported from mainland China that was added to the pet food by US manufacturers. American journalists have since reported that factory owners in China have admitted to routinely adding melamine to such products to boost their nitrogen content, and so make it appear that they contain more protein that they actually do. China explicitly banned this practice on April 26, 2007, though officials dispute any suggestion that melamine from their country could have been responsible for killing America's pets.


In April 2007, animal feed provider Wilbur-Ellis issued a recall of rice protein it supplies to pet food companies because it may contain melamine. The rice protein was imported from Binzhou Futian Biology Technology Co. Ltd. in China, a company spokesman said.[2]


RC2 Corp

In June 2007, toy firm RC2 Corp recalled several of its Thomas & Friends wooden train sets because of the level of lead in the paint its Chinese contractor had used.[3]

In December 2007, toy firm RC2 recalled all of its The First Years 3-in-1 Flush and Sounds Potty Seats because a Chinese contractor had used orange paint that contained excessive levels of lead on the decorative plaques inserted into the back of the potty seat.


In four weeks, the world's biggest toy company recalled millions of products.

On August 1, 2007, Mattel recalled toys modelled on Sesame Street's Big Bird and Elmo, and Nickelodeon's Dora the Explorer because of lead levels in the paint used.[3]

On August 14, 2007, additional recalled products made in China include: 7.1 million Polly Pocket toys produced before November 2006; 600,000 Barbie and Tanner Playsets; 1 million Doggie Daycare, Shonen Jump's One Piece and thousands of Batman Manga toys because they had exposed magnets that could fall off. The company also recalled Sarge diecast toys from the Pixar movie Cars because of concerns over the level of lead used in the paint on them.[4]

On September 4, 2007 Mattel recalled 800,000 Barbie doll accessories and Fisher-Price toys after tests showed the paint used on them contained lead.[5] "Several subcontractors are no longer manufacturing Mattel toys. "We apologize again to everyone affected and promise that we will continue to focus on ensuring the safety and quality of our toys," said chairman and chief executive Robert Eckert.[6]

On September 21, Mattel issued an apology to China over the recall of Chinese-made toys, taking the blame for design flaws and acknowledging that "vast majority of those products that were recalled were the result of a design flaw in Mattel's design, not through a manufacturing flaw in China's manufacturers."[7]


In November 2007, the Australian-distributed toy known there as Bindeez was voluntarily recalled. This was due to shipped toys which were painted with a toxic chemical that sickened children when it metabolized into the anaesthetic GHB. [8]

Marvel Toys

On November 9, 2007 around 175,000 Curious George Plush dolls were recalled by Marvel Toys of New York City, NY. According to the CPSC, the dolls contain an excessive amount of lead in their surface paint. [9]


On November 8, 2007 about 51,000 Children's Fashion Sunglasses imported from China were recalled due to dangerous levels of lead. The sunglasses were distributed by Dolgencorp Inc. of Goodlettsville, TN and sold in Dollar General stores nationwide from March 2005 through October 2007. [10]

EU RAPEX Toothpaste Recall

The EU's RAPEX rapid alert system had alerted member states' governments to pull two brands of Chinese-made toothpaste, Spearmint and Trileaf Spearmint, from European shelves after they were found to contain diethylene glycol, a constituent of antifreeze. Some Chinese manufacturers had been using it as a less-expensive substitute for glycerol, a safe ingredient commonly used to thicken toothpaste. EU consumer affairs commissioner Meglena Kuneva had said: "The RAPEX alert system has demonstrated its value in this case and has paved the way for a rapid EU-wide safety response prompted by the vigilance of the Spanish authorities". Tests on toothpaste found in Italy and Portugal had confirmed the results of Spain's tests, which had triggered the alert.[11] The 'authorities in Panama, the Dominican Republic and Australia have found diethylene glycol, known to have been a source of a number of mass poisonings, usually from adulterated medicines, in toothpaste products', the paper added.

Ultimate Sanction

On 10 July 2007, China executed the former head of its state food and drug administration, Zheng Xiaoyu, for dereliction of duty and taking 6.5m yuan (about US $850,000) in bribes from the manufacturers of substandard medicines that had been blamed for several deaths. Zheng, who headed the agency between 1998 and 2005, had become the symbol of the quality control crisis in China's trade arising from the export of tainted goods – for some of which the authorities in Beijing had blamed him.[12] The sentence reflected Beijing's resolve to wipe out corruption and to ensure consumer safety, China Daily reported on 11 July quoting the state Xinhua news agency. "Zheng Xiaoyu's grave irresponsibility in pharmaceutical safety inspection and failure to conscientiously carry out his duties seriously damaged the interests of the state and people," Xinhua had cited the high court as saying.[13]

A court in early July 2007 had handed down a suspended death sentence to one of Zheng's subordinates on the same charges, the paper added. And a third official at the agency was in jail after being convicted of taking bribes and illegally possessing a firearm. "The nest of corruption in the food and drug administration has done incalculable harm to the state and people," China Daily quoted the Procuratorial Daily as saying.

China was the world's largest exporter of consumer products, and tainted goods represented a small fraction of the country's exports worth more than one trillion USD each year. However, officials worried that protectionist forces in the US could use the spate of quality problems to restrict trade. As Zheng was being executed, representatives of the country's leading food and drug regulatory bodies were holding a joint news conference to emphasize their determination to crack down on fake and counterfeit food and medicine. After weeks of denying serious problems or accusing foreign forces of exaggerating the issue, officials have recently begun to strike a less defensive tone. One senior official acknowledged that the food and drug safety network still allowed too many unsafe goods to slip through and said that at the moment the trend "is not promising...As a developing country, China's current food and drug safety situation is not very satisfactory because supervision of food and drug safety started late. Its foundation is weak so the supervision of food and drug safety is not easy," said Yan Jiangying, deputy policy director of the agency Zheng had headed.[14]

Chinese authorities also ordered copies of Time Magazine sold there to remove a story about tainted Chinese products. Apparently, other stories about faulty exports have been censored. Officials have argued that they have been "smeared" by media agencies and are planning to take retalitory sanctions against Western nations.[15][16]

On August 11, 2007, Zhang Shuhong, co-owner of the Lee Der Toy Company, which supplied Mattel, the world's biggest toy company, with toys based on the Big Bird and Elmo from Sesame Street and Nickelodeon's Dora the Explorer, committed suicide at one of his factories, leaving his factory littered with goods made for Mattel and its Fisher-Price division.[17] Before hanging himself, he paid off all his 5,000 staff.

See also


  1. ^ Melamine suspected of killing hundreds of US pets, New Scientist. 2 May 2007. Accessed 2007-09-05.
  2. ^ Katy Byron (19 April 2007). "Animal feed provider recalls ingredient". CNN. http://money.cnn.com/2007/04/19/news/companies/pet_food/index.htm. 
  3. ^ a b "Mattel to recall more Chinese-made toys". CNN. http://money.cnn.com/news/newsfeeds/articles/newstex/AFX-0013-18873781.htm?cnn=yes. [dead link]
  4. ^ "Mattel CEO: 'Rigorous standards' after massive toy recall". CNN. November 15, 2007. http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/08/14/recall/index.html. Retrieved September 26, 2009. 
  5. ^ Mattel corporate website
  6. ^ Mattel recalls 800,000 toys worldwide, Business Week, 5 September 2007.Accessed:2007-09-05.
  7. ^ "Mattel Apologizes to China Over Recalls". MSN. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20903731. 
  8. ^ "Hong Kong lab tests Bindeez toys for 'date rape' chemical". The Associated Press. http://english.sina.com/taiwan_hk/1/2007/1108/131134.html. 
  9. ^ "Curious George Latest Toy Recalled for Lead Contamination". Fox. 9 November 2007. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,309879,00.html. 
  10. ^ "Curious George Latest Toy Recalled For Lead Contamination". The Associated Press. 2007-11-07. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,309879,00.html. 
  11. ^ Spain withdraws Chinese toothpaste from the oral care market CosmesticsDesigns.com. 12 July 2007.Accessed: 2007-09-05.
  12. ^ China food safety head executed, BBC News, 11 July 2007.Accessed: 2007-09-05.[dead link]
  13. ^ Former SFDA chief executed for corruption, China Daily, 11 July 2007.Accessed: 2007-09-05.[dead link]
  14. ^ China executes the former head of its food and drug agency, International Herald Tribune, Paris, 10 July 2007.Accessed:2007-09-05.
  15. ^ [1]
  16. ^ Thottam, Jyoti (2007-06-28). "The Growing Dangers of China Trade". Time. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1638436,00.html. Retrieved 2010-04-22. 
  17. ^ Chinese toy boss 'kills himself'.Accessed: 2007-09-05.

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