"CPSC is looking into the Zhu Zhu pet toy and we will complete our review swiftly," CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson said in an email to WalletPop.
The buzz grew following a report by environmental health group GoodGuide saying it found higher-than-acceptable levels of tin and antimony in Mr. Squiggles, a popular Zhu Zhu pet.
UPDATE (12/7): GoodGuide issued an apology today for using a different testing methodology than does the government -- thereby making the comparison of what it found to the federal standard inaccurate. "...While we accurately reported the chemical levels in the toys that we measured using our testing method, we should not have compared our results to federal standards,"
the group said in a written statement. "We regret this error. "
Based on that and independent lab tests reviewed by the CPSC, Mr. Squiggles has been cleared.
Wolfson said the CPSC is committed to new, tougher standards for toy safety mandated by the Consumer Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). The heavy metal antimony, once governed only by a voluntary industry standard, was included in the CPSIA and is now regulated by the CPSC.
"CPSC is working especially hard this time of year to ensure that toys are safe for all children, he said. The agency is proactively evaluating certain toys and we are working with consumer groups to test toys they have been brought to our attention. Parents should know that there is a new child safety law that went into place this year that: 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 coatings on toys. "
The company that sells Zhu Zhu Pets that makes the impossible-to-find holiday toy says the toys are safe (see their press release).
"We are disputing the findings of GoodGuide and we are 100% 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," Russ Hornsby, CEO of Cepia LLC., said in a written statement. "All our products are subjected to several levels of rigorous safety testing conducted by our own internal teams, as well as the world's leading independent quality assurance testing organization, and also by independent labs engaged by our retail partners. The results of every test prove that our products are in compliance with all government and industry safety standards."
As we know from WalletPop's own experience with alerting authorities about defective products -- when our Consumer Ally discovered that Target Halloween flashlights could catch fire -- it can take weeks before an official recall takes place, and that was with Target's cooperation.
If there was a recall, the dynamics would be unlike any other in recent memory -- since thousands of people paid far beyond retail price from third party sellers on eBay and Amazon.com. And now parents are left wondering whether to take this seriously and continue on their now easier quest to get these varmints (they've been showing up in increasing numbers at increasing numbers of retail outlets) or to hold off the officially inquiry is completed and, if they have them, whether to hold off giving them as Christmas presents.
Stay tuned to WalletPop for more recall news and we will let you know what develops.