Group Questions Safety of Popular Toy

A consumer website clarified its previous announcement that one of the hottest-selling toys of the holiday season contains high levels of a potentially hazardous substance, saying the testing method was different than that of the federal government. The manufacturer of Zhu Zhu Pets, which makes the light-brown hamster called Mister Squiggles, then issued a statement saying the method the group used to identify levels of antimony is “inferior” and has not been determined to be reliable.

In the message on the web site of California-based GoodGuide, the group’s co-founder, Dara O’Rourke said “while GoodGuide considers the presence of any antimony on the surface of a toy to be a concern, we want to clarify that we used a testing methodology to evaluate the toys that is different from the testing methodology incorporated into the federal standards. As we have continually stressed, all Zhu Zhu Pet toys are safe and compliant with all U.S. and European standards for consumer health and safety in toys.” Russ Hornsby, ECO of the toy manufacturer, St. Louis, Missouri based Cepia LLC, said he was pleased at the clarification.

Zhu Zhu Pets, Mister Squiggles has become the hottest toy of this 2009 holiday season with more than 6 million sold so far. Retailing for just over $10, the hamster is selling on popular bidding sites, such as, for far excess of the suggested retail price. Parents around the nation are certainly breathing a sigh of relief with the news that the pets are not contaminated with the antimony, a metallic element that can cause heart and lung problems.

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