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'Bad product' makers named, shamed
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Following a string of safety recalls of its Chinese-made products, the world's largest toy company Mattel has been named in the International Bad Product Awards.


Mattel was selected as one of four award-winners this year by Consumers International (CI), the world federation of consumer organizations, along with Coca-Cola, Kellogg's and the US subsidiary of Japanese firm Takeda Pharmaceuticals.


After recalling more than 21 million products made in China this year, the US toymaker on Wednesday announced another recall of 38,000 Chinese-made Fisher-Price plastic boats because the paint contained too much lead.


High lead levels in paint and small magnets, which might be accidentally swallowed by children, are the most cited reasons behind the recalls.


In a statement revealing the winners, CI said Mattel was named "for stonewalling US congressional investigations and avoiding overall responsibility for the global recall of 21 million products".


In September, in the wake of a series of recalls, Mattel made a formal apology to China, admitting the vast majority of recalls were due to design flaws and had nothing to do with Chinese manufacturers.


"This is a classic case of avoiding accountability and shifting responsibility on a global scale," the statement said.


"Wherever the fault lies, the safety of consumers was compromised and this should be the full focus of Mattel's attention, not finger pointing and not blame dodging."


Coca-Cola was criticized for its bottled water, Dasani, which was said to be nothing more than repackaged tap water.


Kellogg's, best known for its cereals, was named for the worldwide use of cartoon-type characters and product tie-ins aimed at children, despite high levels of sugar and salt in its food products.


Takeda Pharmaceuticals has taken advantage of poor US regulations and advertised sleeping pills aimed at children, despite health warnings about pediatric use, CI said.


Richard Lloyd, director-general of CI, said: "In highlighting their shortcomings, Consumers International and its 220 member organizations are holding corporations to account and demanding businesses take social responsibility seriously."


(China Daily November 2, 2007)

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