Zhu Zhu Hamster Pets are selling out in stores all across the U.S. during the 2009 Christmas toys shopping season, and questions are now being raised about the safety of these adorable hamsters by the consumer watch group Good Guide (www.goodguide.com). Are Zhu Zhu pets toxic for children or are they safe?
Dara O’Rourke, co-founder of GoodGuide, tested Zhu Zhu Pets for chemicals with his group, and says Zhu Zhu pets have elevated levels of tin and antimony – a metal with potential health hazards. “If ingested in high enough levels can lead to cancer, reproductive health, and other human health hazards”.
Good Guide partners with other companies to rate the social, environmental, and health impacts of hundreds of products, which includes testing toys like the Zhu Zhu pet for, among other things, toxic chemicals.
Good Guide says the Zhu Zhu Pets stood out because of high levels of antimony. Attempts to reach representatives of Zhu Zhu Pets by phone were unsuccessful, as their office was closed at the time this article was created.
In its research study, Good Guide reported the federal antimony legal limit was 60 parts per million. Its study on Zhu Zhu Pets found 93 ppm in the fur and 103 ppm in the nose. The danger can come from when kids touch the toy and then touch their mouths, or even put the toy directly into their mouths.
“If these toys aren’t even meeting the legal standards in the U.S. then I would say that it isn’t worth the risk for me to bring it into my household,” said O’Rourke. “We’re not recommending that you throw them away,” O’Rourke said. “But if you’re concerned about it then we recommend that you call the company or potentially return the product if you feel it’s not safe enough for your kids”.
Zhu Zhu Pets are made in China, but the company, Cepia LLC, is headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri. Good Guide’s founder said he was not calling for a boycott or recall. He wants parents to make their own decisions about the toys, but he does advise parents to hold on to the receipts.
Regarding questions being asked about a recall, Zhu Zhu Pets official website (www.zhuzhupets.com) says, “We have received emails and phone calls with questions about Zhu Zhu Pets™ at Walmart.Â There has been some miscommunication that the pets are being recalled, and we want to assure you the product is not being recalled.”
If you would like to contact Zhu Zhu Pets Corporate Office to ask questions about the safety of their product, or to get their official response to Good Guide’s study of Zhu Zhu Pets, please call 1-800-225-9319 during normal business hours (Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.), or email Zhu Zhu Pets at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read Good Guide’s Zhu Zhu Pets Product Ratings here.
Update: Response from Russ Hornsby, CEO of Cepia, LLC regarding Good Guide’s claims:
Cepia LLC, manufacturer of Zhu Zhu Pets, says the popular Hamster pets are “absolutely safe and has passed the most rigorous testing in the toy industry for consumer health and safety.”
“We are disputing the findings of Good Guide and we are 100% confident that Mr. Squiggles, and all other Zhu Zhu Toys, are safe and compliant with all U.S. and European standards for consumer health and safety in toys,” said Russ Hornsby, CEO of Cepia LLC.
“All our products are subjected to several levels of rigorous safety testing conducted by our own internal teams, as well as the world’s leading independent quality assurance testing organization, and also by independent labs engaged by our retail partners,” Hornsby said. “The results of every test prove that our products are in compliance with all government and industry safety standards.”
“We are contacting the Good Guide people at this moment to share with them all of our Mr. Squiggles and Zhu Zhu Pet testing data so we can get to the bottom of how their report was founded,” creator Russ Hornsby said. “We want to assure everyone already enjoying Mr. Squiggles or other Zhu Zhu Pets, and those planning to purchase Mr. Squiggles or another Zhu Zhu Pet this holiday season, that the toy is 100 percent safe and in compliance with all U.S. and European toy safety standards. I have been in the toy industry for more than 35 years, and being a father of children myself, I would never allow any substandard or unsafe product to hit the shelves. That’s why we always test to not only meet but also exceed safety standards.”
Toxic Toy List for 2009
The words “toxic” and “toys” don’t belong in the same sentence, nor does Trouble in Toyland, but parents and consumers need to keep themselves aware of potential health risks in products we purchase and that includes toys for kids of all ages. What does toy safety mean to you as a parent?
Parents, did you know that some children’s toys carrying the Barbie and Disney logos have turned up with high levels of lead in them, according to a California-based advocacy group? The Center for Environmental Health tested about 250 children’s products bought at major retailers and found lead levels that exceeded federal limits in seven of them. Lead can cause irreversible brain damage.
Among those with high lead levels include the Disney Tinkerbell Water Lily necklace; Barbie Bike Flair Accessory Set; Dora the Explorer Activity Tote; TKS girl’s sandals from Sears; Walmart kids poncho; Walmart Faded Glory girl’s shoes; and Cherokee boys belt.
HealthyStuff.org, an organization that researches toxic chemicals in everyday products, said that due to consumer pressure, there’s been a 67 percent decrease in the number of toys exceeding the current Consumer Product Safety Commission limits for lead in toys. But one in three products tested still contains high levels of lead and other dangerous chemicals like mercury, cadmium, arsenic and bromine. Searching Healthy Stuff for any mention of Zhu Zhu Pets brought no results, so far.
Toys are much safer this year than they have been in years past, but parents and consumers must be diligent in staying informed – there are still lead and hazardous materials found in many toys today, and some are still found on store shelves.