Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Reputations for safety matter

WASHINGTON -
Mattel Inc. CEO Robert Eckert pledged Wednesday to work to improve toy safety, and insisted that the company acted responsibly in recalling millions of Chinese-made toys because they contained lead paint or small magnets.

Seeking to tamp down public outrage over a rash of recalls, Eckert acknowledged his El Segundo, Calif.-based company made mistakes by not closely overseeing subcontractors in China whose toys didn't meet U.S. safety standards. But he steadfastly disputed reports that Mattel was feuding with federal regulators over warning requirements and as a result didn't disclose quickly enough dangers of excessive lead paint and small magnets in toys that prompted an Aug. 14 recall of 19 million products worldwide.

"We are by no means perfect," Eckert said in prepared testimony to a Senate Appropriations subcommittee. "But we have tackled difficult issues before and demonstrated an ability to make change for the better, not only within our own company but for the broader industry." . . . .

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