Wal-Mart recalls animal toy sets for lead

Wal-Mart Stores WMT is recalling toy animals made in China because of excessive lead levels discovered since it stepped up safety testing in August, the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer said Friday.

In a news release, the nation's largest retailer and largest toy seller described the recalled items as sets of realistic-looking farm animals, jungle animals and dinosaurs.

The toys are sold in loose sets in cellophane-type bags without a brand name. Wal-Mart said independent testing revealed excessive levels of lead in the material the toys are made of.

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Linda Blakley declined to name the manufacturer and did not know how many sets were sold or exactly how long they've been stocked. "We've had these for a while," she said.

Blakley said Wal-Mart directed its stores to pull the toys off shelves and hold them at the start of the week after it got preliminary test results.

It decided to issue the voluntary recall Friday after verifying the testing and notifying the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the manufacturer, she said.

Wal-Mart believes the manufacturer has also sold the toys through other retailers. Blakley said Wal-Mart has provided the maker's name and the test data to the CPSC and it would be up to the CPSC to work with the manufacturer to contact other retailers.

The retailer said it was posting photos and details of the affected toys on its website, http://www.walmartfacts.com. It said customers may return the product to any Wal-Mart store, with or without a receipt, for a full refund.

According to the photos, the animal sets were sold in cellophane-type bags with a blue cardboard hanger reading "Dinosaurs", "Farm Animals" or "Jungle Animals" and bearing a large printed price of 88 cents.

Wal-Mart said it has directed stores to remove the sets from shelves and placed a register block on the items so that any remaining in stores cannot be sold.

Wal-Mart said in August it was stepping up testing and safety reviews of the toys it sells to reassure consumers ahead of the critical holiday season after a series of recalls of Chinese-made toys over hazards to children.

It asked manufacturers to resubmit testing documentation for toys already on the shelves or in shipment, so that Wal-Mart could double-check the results. It also said it would increase the number of toys tested at independent labs by about 25 to 50%, or an average of 200 additional items daily.

The toy industry has been shaken by several high-profile recalls of Chinese-made products, from Hasbro Inc.'s faulty Easy Bake Ovens to the worldwide recall of 1.5 million preschool toys from Fisher-Price, a division of Mattel, the nation's largest toy maker.

The actions are part of a slew of recalls of Chinese-made products that range from faulty tires to poisoned pet food.