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December 9, 2009

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Zhu Zhu toy pets good to go: regulators

ZHU Zhu Pets robotic hamsters - one of the holiday season's hottest toy crazes - do not violate safety standards, United States federal toy regulators said on Monday after a consumer group raised concerns over the presence of a heavy metal on one model.

The toy "is not out of compliance" with a US toy safety law that went into effect this year, a spokesman for the US Consumer Product Safety Commission said. The agency did not test the toy.

The California-based consumer group GoodGuide raised concerns over the presence of a potentially harmful heavy metal in a Mr Squiggles model of the robotic hamsters. The group said its testing found antimony - a heavy metal that can cause vomiting if eaten, and heart and lung problems if inhaled - on the furry toy's hair and nose in levels that exceeded new federal limits.

But those claims fell apart on Monday, when GoodGuide said the way it got its test results - using a special gun that shoots X-rays into a toy and gives a reading for how much lead, antimony or other substances are in the material - is not recognized by the CPSC for judging whether a toy is hazardous.

Instead, the CPSC tests how much of a heavy metal would actually seep out if a child sucked or swallowed a toy - not just how much of a potentially dangerous substance a toy contains.

"While we accurately reported the chemical levels in the toys that we measured using our testing method, we should not have compared our results to federal standards," GoodGuide said. "We regret this error."

The CPSC said it has concluded the toy, which retails for about US$10, does not pose a threat based on independent testing presented by the toy's manufacturer, St Louis-based Cepia LLC.


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