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Big Promotions.net, Advertising Specialties, Dallas, TX

When There’s Cadmium In Your Kids Cup

by Susan Morgan on June 18, 2010

Recalls are so much in the news. Cars. Medicines. Spinach. Now our kids cups.

No doubt you’ve heard about the McDonald’s recall of 12 million Shrek Foever After 3D promotional glasses due to unsafe levels of cadmium in the paint pigments on the glasses. In case you’re wondering how the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC) found out about the toxic metal… an anonymous tipster (two in fact) with access to some pretty state-of-the-art equipment tipped off Rep Jackie Speier. The info was then brought to the CSPC for confirmation before the fast food giant was notified.

Before you blame non-U.S. manufacturing, the Shrek glasses were made by ARC international — Millville, NJ. A company McDonald’s has been working with for 15 years. Ouch.

The company also claims that the glasses met federal guidelines for cadmium based on test results from a CSPC approved lab. Agency spokesman Scott Wolfson said the glasses did fall short of the standards for toxic metals being developed by his agency.

By law, no more than 75 parts per million of cadmium should be in any paint on kids toys. According to Speier’s office and a blog written by one of the two tipsters, the amount found in the Shrek glasses was significantly higher than that, but less than that in the Chinese-made children’s jewelry recalled just this May that had been sold at Claire’s and Wal Mart.

For those who aren’t all that familiar with the periodic table, cadmium is a soft, bluish white metal discovered in 1817 by Friedrich Stromeyer and is similar in many ways to zinc. You can actually cut it with a knife. Cadmium is known to have a high toxicity, and while used for many things in the 1970s and 80s, since 1980 its use has declined dramatically. Research has shown cadmium to be associated with bone softening and severe kidney problems, not to mention likely hindering brain development in the young. The CSPC says that long term exposure to the element “can cause adverse health effects.”

If all this has you wondering what’s going on with all the similar freebies we have sitting in our kitchen cabinets… the ones we’ve been using for years… you’re not alone. Parents are certainly concerned about what might be a part of all those painted toys that were part of half eaten Happy Meals.

So… where does this leave a business considering promotional products like glasses? Start by learning all you can about any toxic substance that might be part of a product you give away, and offer safe handling instructions whenever possible. Work with suppliers and manufacturers you know and follow all the rules there are — just as Mcdonald’s did. Stay informed on the issue and government actions; always aim to beat government safety standards.

Understand that because so many companies have disappointed consumers or broken trust, people are wary of everyone… even the most well intentioned.

You might also want to check out these ten tips for protecting your reputation during a recall. While recalls seem to be everywhere these days, very few companies seem to be getting the message delivered by Ron Zoino, the lead researcher for the PR firm hired by Johnson and Johnson (makers of Tylenol) back in late 1982 after seven people in the Chicago area died from taking tainted capsules. “Number one is be up front, number two is be responsive on an ongoing basis and number three is how you follow up, Tylenol did all three really well,” .

Understand too that cadmium is a natural substance that we all take in as part of some foods (kidneys and livers of some oysters, scallops and mussels) as well as coffee, tea and so called “soft” water. In fact, what we get from our diet is likely our most significant exposure. For healthy people the body can handle this, unless a person has health issues like a zinc deficiency or weakened kidney functions.

Recent reports have cadmium, along with arsenic and lead found in worrisome amounts in some well known protein drinks used to build muscle. So much for the health benefits.

Clearly this issue is not going away anytime soon.

The company also claims that the glasses met federal guidelines for cadmium based on test results from a CSPC approved lab. Agency spokesman Scott Wolfson said the glasses did fall short of the standards for toxic metals being developed by his agency.

By law, no more than 75 parts per million of cadmium should be in any paint on kids toys. According to Speier’s office and a blog written by one of the two tipsters, the amount found in the Shrek glasses was significantly higher than that, but less than that in the Chinese-made children’s jewelry recalled just this May that had been sold at Claire’s and Wal Mart.

For those who aren’t all that familiar with the periodic table, cadmium is a soft, bluish white metal discovered in 1817 by Friedrich Stromeyer and is similar in many ways to zinc. You can actually cut it with a knife. Cadmium is known to have a high toxicity, and while used for many things in the 1970s and 80s, since 1980 its use has declined dramatically. Research has shown cadmium to be associated with bone softening and severe kidney problems, not to mention likely hindering brain development in the young. The CSPC says that long term exposure to the element “can cause adverse health effects.”

If all this has you wondering what’s going on with all the similar freebies we have sitting in our kitchen cabinets… the ones we’ve been using for years… you’re not alone. Parents are certainly concerned about what might be a part of all those painted toys that were part of half eaten Happy Meals.

So… where does this leave a business considering promotional products like glasses? Start by learning all you can about any toxic substance that might be part of a product you give away, and offer safe handling instructions whenever possible. Work with suppliers and manufacturers you know and follow all the rules there are — just as Mcdonald’s did. Stay informed on the issue and government actions; always aim to beat government safety standards.

Understand that because so many companies have disappointed consumers or broken trust, people are wary of everyone… even the most well intentioned.

You might also want to check out these ten tips for protecting your reputation during a recall. While recalls seem to be everywhere these days, very few companies seem to be getting the message delivered by Ron Zoino, the lead researcher for the PR firm hired by Johnson and Johnson (makers of Tylenol) back in late 1982 after seven people in the Chicago area died from taking tainted capsules. “Number one is be up front, number two is be responsive on an ongoing basis and number three is how you follow up, Tylenol did all three really well,” .

Understand too that cadmium is a natural substance that we all take in as part of some foods (kidneys and livers of some oysters, scallops and mussels) as well as coffee, tea and so called “soft” water. In fact, what we get from our diet is likely our most significant exposure. For healthy people the body can handle this, unless a person has health issues like a zinc deficiency or weakened kidney functions.

Recent reports have cadmium, along with arsenic and lead found in worrisome amounts in some well known protein drinks used to build muscle. So much for the health benefits.

Clearly this issue is not going away anytime soon.

Susan Morgan on sabtwitterSusan Morgan on sabfacebook
Susan Morgan
Creative, passionate and detailed, Susan brings 25-plus years professional writing experience to a variety of projects — get-noticed direct mail pieces, full line print catalogs, eye-catching color brochures and totally original. search engine friendly company blogs, web pages and online articles.

A lifelong love of storytelling has also produced a full-length novel (Out of the Ordinary published by booklocker in 2007). Susan continues to indulge her passion for fiction with a growing number of short stories (one an award winner in 2004, another in 2008) and finalizing a second novel.

In her spare time Susan enjoys gardening, studying astrology and tarot, being with family and friends and keeping up with politics and current events.


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