Mattel CEO Defends China Operations

Toy giant Mattel Inc. issued its second product recall in two weeks Tuesday, this time sending a warning to consumers about more than 9 million toys made in China that either contain lead paint or pose a swallowing hazard to children.

Mattel issued a recall earlier this month for about 1.5 million Chinese-made Fisher-Price toys that contain lead paint.

In an interview with "Good Morning America's" Chris Cuomo, Mattel chief executive Bob Eckert called the company's testing standards "rigorous" and defended Mattel's operations in China.

Since government regulations controlling industry are virtually nonexistent in China, many Western companies move their manufacturing operations there to save money. Seventy to eighty percent of the world's toys are made in China, according to the Toy Industry Association.

Cuomo grilled Eckert about Mattel's oversight of manufacturing in China, and asked him how much money the company saves by making toys in China.

"The question of safety is not about the money. It's about doing the right thing for consumers. Again, we make toys in markets other than China," Eckert said.

You can read a partial transcript of the interview below, and watch the full interview on ABC News Now.

Chris Cuomo: To a parent, all they're going to take from this discussion is why didn't you pull the toys as soon as you knew they may be a threat? That's what a parent's concern is. What's your answer?

Bob Eckert: These toys are generally no longer at retail. These are toys that were sold between 2002 and 2007. So again what we're trying to do is take the standards that we have today that we've worked with the CPSC [Consumer Product Safety Commission] to develop and apply them retroactively to toys that were sold years ago. A lot of parents are not going to have these toys.

Cuomo: In terms of responsibility, do you understand that even though we keep hearing about these toys being made in China, this is your responsibility, these toys may have been made with your own hands. Do you understand that?

Eckert: Well, I apologize to everyone involved. Nobody likes to have recalls, but the fact is the safety of children is the utmost important thing here, so we want to inform the public of our new standards and what we need to do retroactively to encourage parents to send those products back to us.

Cuomo: Can you in good conscience tell American parents that your toys are safe?

Eckert: Yes. We have the most rigorous testing in the world, and in fact we keep increasing our standards. We've worked very hard over the past weeks and months to ensure that our toys are very safe.

Cuomo: Now when you say nobody likes to have recalls, let's look at why we have the recalls. Evolving your standards is one thing but fundamentally it comes down to where you're having the toys made. They're being made in China, you don't have oversight, there's tremendous pressure for them to cut corners and keep cost down, because that's how you make money, so allow me to ask you sir: How much money are you saving having these toys made in China?

Eckert: We make toys in several markets around the world. And the fact is that since most of the toys are made in China, most of the problems with manufacturing, the recalls, come from Chinese toys. When we've made toys in other markets over the years, we've had recalls from those markets.

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