Inspectors not high priority for toy company executive

Safety is always a concern for those who buy toys for children. But this Christmas, that’s a real concern, more so than any other in recent memory.Bloomberg News reports that China produces 80 percent of the toys sold in the U.S. and that Mattel alone has recalled at least 21 million items this year because of fears about lead paint and other concerns.

Bloomberg also reports that it is big business, indeed, with $170 billion worth of goods imported from China in the first nine months of 2007 – and the United States is the biggest export market.

To check a specific toy, the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Web site lists them at cpsc.gov.

Along with the health questions, there is a reasonable concern about whose side Nancy Nord, acting chairwoman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, is on. Are her allegiances with the industry lobbyists or the consumers?

Nord joined those lobbyists in opposition of a Senate bill, which would expand staffing at her organization, which has only one full-time toy tester and is responsible for examining more than 15,000 products. This leaves room for error in the product inspection category.

Nord, along with Hal Stratton, Nord’s predecessor, have taken a combined total of 30 trips, paid for by toy, appliance and children’s furniture industries since 2002. The cost of the trips, food and hotels totaled almost $60,000 and were to locations such as San Francisco, China, New Orleans, Florida and New York, according to the Washington Post.

Those trips were paid for by the same organizations Nord is supposed to oversee.

In light of these trips, seven Democratic lawmakers have offered a proposal to stop travel by federal regulators paid for by industries they are supposed to be inspecting.

Here’s a question we never thought we’d seriously have to ask – can we trust the toy industry?

Everyone loves toys and games, but no one likes it when those toy makers play “Risk” with our safety.

Billy Wessels is a senior news-editorial journalism major from Waxahachie.