Disney's Safety Department Joining Independent Toy-Testing Trend

Following this summer's series of toy recalls when China-made products with lead paint were discovered on American store shelves, many toy makers, marketers, and retailers have decided to start their own backup-testing programs. Now, the Walt Disney Company has joined the trend.

Disney executives said it would inform manufacturers today and that its tests will focus on about 2,000 toymakers and 65,000 products each year. Disney's Product Integrity Office, which oversees safety programs throughout the company, including in its theme parks, is still deciding how often the tests will occur. The company said that within the next two weeks toys will be tested off the shelves of all retailers that sell Disney toys--including Wal-Mart and KB Toys, as well as stores in other parts of the world.

Other marketers such as Sesame Workshop also say they intend to test products independently. It and Nickelodeon were hit by the summer's first large-scale recall, which affected a closet full of Elmo, Big Bird, Dora the Explorer, and Diego toys. Nickelodeon, which licenses Dora, Diego, and other popular characters to Mattel and other companies, decided to start its own backup-testing program in July.

Separately, Toys "R" Us, the nation's largest toy retailer, has notified manufacturers that it, too, no longer feels that their tests are enough. Starting this week, engineers hired by the company will regularly visit random Toys "R" Us stores, gather toys, and take them to independent labs for testing.

Toy companies say they are already stepping up their own testing and are prepared to handle the situation themselves. Mattel and Hasbro, among others, have announced plans to test production equipment and supplies more often than in the past.

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