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Group contends Zhu Zhu Pets toys unsafe

December 6, 2009 6:29:19 PM PST
"Zhu Zhu Pets" is on the top of many children's Chistmas lists, but now a consumer group contends one of the holiday season's must-have toys is unsafe.Parents say they love the little battery operated hamster because it doesn't require any of the maintenance of the real thing, and kids love it because it's so cute.

SanFrancisco based "Goodguide.com" says Zhu Zhu Pets hamsters are one of the top-selling toys with low ratings. They found it contained antimony, which can cause health problems.

Dara O'Rourke of goodguide.com says antimony can cause cancer and other health problems if injested in high levels.

"These toys aren't even meeting the legal standards in the U.S., and I would say it isn't worth the risk for me to bring it into my household," explained O'Rourke.

Antimony was measured at 93 parts per million in the hamster's fur and at 106 parts per million in its nose. Both readings exceed the allowable level of 60 parts per million.

The toy is made in China, but the company, Cepia LLC, which is based in St. Louis, insists they meet all government and industry standards.

Critics say that kissing or touching a favorite or popular toy should not put a child's health at risk.

To be clear, the Zhu Zhu Pets toy hamsters have not been recalled.

The CPSC released a statement in response to reports of unsafe chemical levels found in this year's big holiday toy:

"CPSC is working especially hard this time of year to ensure that toys are safe for all children. The agency is proactively evaluating certain toys and we are working with consumer groups to test toys they have been brought to our attention. Parents should know that there is a new child safety law that went into place this year that: 1) lowers lead in toys to some of the lowest levels in the world, 2) bans certain phthalates from toys, and 3) puts federal limits on heavy metals like antinomy from being in surface coatings on toys. CPSC is looking into the Zhu Zhu pet toy and we will complete our review swiftly. With new safety measures in place for children and toy recalls down from previous years, consumers can have greater confidence when shopping this year and in the CPSC."

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