No problems with product quality at toy firms, says official

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 01 October, 2007, 12:00am

Only 5 per cent of toy producers in Guangdong have potential production problems, and these were not the primary cause of the recent US toy recalls, a senior provincial inspection official said yesterday.

Li Qingxiang, deputy director general of the Guangdong Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau, said the bureau had inspected about half the 1,385 Guangdong toy producers that held export licences last month - not including those in Shenzhen - and no problems with product quality had been found.

He said the potential problems were related to management, not product quality, and that lead-tainted toys were not the cause of most of the recalls.

'The toy producers, most of them from Hong Kong, have been making good products for a long time. In the past, we have heard about recalls every year. Most have been related to bad design and only a few were for excessive amounts of lead. This time [the recall] attracted the media's attention and caused the bad reaction,' he said.

The wave of global recalls of mainland toys started in June. Some toy giants such as US-based Mattel recalled millions of items valued at billions of yuan.

But last month, Mattel publicly apologised for damaging the reputation of mainland manufacturers, admitting that the vast majority of the 21 million toys were recalled as a result of Mattel's designs and that lead-tainted toys accounted for only a small percentage of those recalled.

Mr Li said some toy manufacturers had started to become complacent about production safety because they had never suffered any recalls in the past. But all had undertaken self-inspections in the wake of the recent recalls, he said.

During the inspection, the bureau discovered some companies trying to use fake export licences for uninspected goods, some of which were sent to Hong Kong. But Mr Li said those licences were only for clothes, not food or household appliances.

'We had extremely strict inspections for the food [exported to Hong Kong] and it is almost impossible for unchecked food to escape us,' he said.

Lai Tiansheng, director of the Guangdong Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine Bureau, provided results of the month-long programme launched by 19 provincial departments to improve product quality and food safety.

To guarantee food safety, the quality-supervision authorities placed more than 22,000 food producers and individual workshops on their checklist, while closing down another 1,483.

Industrial and commercial officials seized 65,000kg of food falsely sold under certain brand names or falsely advertised. This included more than 3,600kg of poor-quality pork.

Provincial food and drug authorities investigated 7,171 cases involving bogus or poor-quality drugs since the end of last year, with 157 unlicensed workshops closed down and 11 people jailed.