Federal consumer safety regulators on Friday announced the recall of "The Princess and The Frog" pendants because of high levels of the toxic metal cadmium, an unprecedented action that reflects concerns of an emerging threat in children's products.
The recall affects two products, about 55,000 items in total, sold exclusively at Walmart stores for $5 each. The action was taken voluntarily by Rhode Island-based jewelry company FAF Inc., which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which disclosed the recall, had been testing for cadmium in children's metal jewelry for several weeks in response to an Associated Press investigation that reported high levels of the known carcinogen in the Disney movie-themed pendants and other children's metal jewelry imported from China.
In reaction to the AP's reporting earlier this month, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. had pulled three items from its shelves, including the two recalled Friday a crown pendant with UPC number 72783367144 and a frog pendant with UPC number 72783367147. The items had been on sale at Walmart stores since November, in conjunction with release of the animated movie.
Soon after Wal-Mart pulled the items, the CPSC's chairman advised parents to throw away all pieces of inexpensive metal jewelry, noting that children who chew, suck on or swallow a bracelet charm or necklace may be endangering their health.
Consumers can return the two recalled items "to any Walmart store for a full refund or a free replacement product," according to the recall notice. Wal-Mart did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The recall marks the first time any consumer product has been recalled in the United States because of cadmium, which recent research also suggests can harm brain development in children. The CPSC said in a statement that there have been no reports of cadmium poisonings associated with the pendants but that its investigation into other pieces of jewelry "remains open and active."
The Walt Disney Co., which produced the movie, said: "Disney supports the decision by FAF and the CPSC to recall the jewelry."
The Fashion Jewelry Trade Association, which represents the industry, had no immediate comment.
Lab tests conducted on 103 pieces of low-priced children's jewelry as part of AP's original investigation found 12 items with cadmium content above 10 percent of the total weight. One item consisted of 91 percent cadmium by weight.
Pendants from four "The Princess and The Frog" necklaces ranged between 25 and 35 percent cadmium, according to the testing. At the time, Walt Disney said in a statement that test results provided by FAF Inc. showed the item complied with all applicable safety standards. But in the case of cadmium, unlike lead, there have been no specific levels that would automatically trigger health risks to children or a push for a recall.
Earlier this month, Dr. Philip Landrigan, of the Department of Preventative Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, told CBS News, "It's a nasty toxic metal and, in my opinion, has no place no children's toys -- none."
As part of its investigation, the CPSC bought pieces of the jewelry cited in the AP reports, tested them in the agency's lab and found high levels as well. Based on the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, agency staff determined that the items posed a health risk to children, according to agency spokesman Scott Wolfson. The agency then approached FAF, which cooperated with the investigation and agreed to the recall.
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