According to a consumer safety group, this holiday season's hottest toy is a health hazard to children. Chemical testing by Good Guide found that Mr. Squiggles, a self-propelled furry hamster that's part of the popular Zhu Zhu Pet series, contains high levels of the metal antimony, a known carcinogen. Zhu Zhu's manufacturer disputes this claim with test results that show the Chinese toy meets U.S. safety standards, and Good Guide has softened its warning by pointing out that the carcinogen levels are within federal limits. Did Good Guide rush out a false alarm, or should parents still avoid putting Mr. Squiggles under the tree this Christmas? (Watch an AP video about claims that Mr. Squiggles is unsafe)
Until there's a recall, don't sweat it: I'm all for pointing out toxins in children's toys, but "the Good Guide got it wrong," says Jenn Savedge at the Mother Nature Network. They misunderstood the federal guidelines, or the science, and their results are just plain misleading: By mixing up the levels of soluble antimony and total antimony, they made Mr. Squiggles seem more dangerous than he really is.
"In support of Mr. Squiggles"
Parents are understandably wary of Chinese toys: Mr. Squiggles may be safe, says Aisha Sultan in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and he's certainly earned "high marks" from kids and inclusion "on every top toy list this holiday season." But in the wake China's 2007 fiasco involving "lead-tainted toys," you can't blame us parents for being "skittish" about products from that country.
"Zhu Zhu Pets possible safety concern and holiday shopping"
Mr. Squiggles—and parents—dodged a bullet: The Zhu Zhu Pet's near-recall experience shows the "downside to how popular these furry toys are," says Peter Chubb at Product Reviews Net. Each year's "hot" toy is now "made cheap and in huge batches" in China, and "it is no secret that China cuts corners." It's just a matter of time until one really is unsafe, and I pity the poor parent who has to take away his kid's new favorite toy on Christmas morning.
"How Zhu Zhu Pets recall could affect Christmas"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The U.S. Marines are developing laser weapons. Here's why.
- Why the Supreme Court is allowing Texas to hold an unconstitutional election
- How 1,000-year lifespans could remake the economy
- 3 horrific inaccuracies in Homeland's depiction of Islamabad
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Gamergate has backfired spectacularly on its nincompoop perpetrators
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why you should absolutely watch this confounding, wonderful World Series
- Rise of the machines
- 10 things you need to know today: October 20, 2014
Subscribe to the Week