On 20 November 2009, Health Canada issued a recall notice for three of Melissa & Doug’s wooden toys due to barium levels exceeding allowable limits. The Canadian standard for permissible limits of barium in painted children’s items has recently been upgraded to one of the most stringent in the world. These toys do not exceed limits set by the U.S. or the U.K., or by any other country that I know of. Mind you, I am not saying that it’s a bad thing that we have demanding standards — but rather that we as consumers should not panic over a recall like this. I don’t believe that this is a case of sloppy manufacturing, but rather of increased testing standards particular to Canada that are weeding out some toys (particularly painted wooden toys) whose content was perfectly okay until the standard was recently changed by Health Canada.
Here’s a link to the relevant page on Health Canada’s website. The full text is as follows:
Slice and Bake Cookie set, Shape Sorting Cube, and Pound a Peg by Melissa & Doug
Full Product Description
This recall involves all batches of the following three products by Melissa & Doug.
- Slice and Bake Cookie Set: The set includes a tube of 12 sliceable wooden cookies with 12 decorative toppings, a kitchen mitt, a wooden cookie sheet, knife and spatula. The recalled sets can be identified by UPC 000772040747. Health Canada tested batch number ZP1208.
- Shape Sorting Cube: This toy is a wooden cube with a lid and 12 colourful cut-out shapes that fit into 12 holes, based on the shape. The cut-out shapes are red, yellow, green, and blue. The recalled toys can be identified by UPC 000772005753. Health Canada tested batch number XY0309.
- Pound-a-Peg: This toy includes 8 colourful wooden pegs, a wooden hammer, and a wooden bench. The pegs are red, green, yellow, and blue, and can be pounded into the wooden bench using the hammer. The recalled toys can be identified by UPC 000772004961. Health Canada tested batch number ZP0609.
The UPC and lot number can be found on the product packaging.
Testing by Health Canada has revealed that the surface paint on the toys contains barium in excess of the allowable limit.
Some forms of barium are safely used in medical and commercial applications, while other forms of barium can be toxic, causing adverse health effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and cramps as well as more severe symptoms. Children’s toys coated with paint containing barium in excess of the allowable limit are strictly prohibited in Canada.
Health Canada has not received any reports of incidents or illnesses related to the use of this product.
Consumers should immediately take the recalled toys away from children.
Melissa & Doug has said that consumers should contact them directly at 1-203-762-4500 in order to obtain a free-of-charge replacement.
Approximately 26,290 units of the recalled products were sold across Canada.
Time Period Sold
The recalled products were sold from November 2008 to November 2009.
Manufactured in China.
Melissa & Doug Inc. of Westport, Connecticut