Tuesday, December 15, 2009

CPSIA - Zhu Zhu Pets Win the Battle But Lose the War

In the modern game of forming public opinion by fanning fear, victory by over-zealous consumer groups and political zealots is all but assured. With an incurious media all too ready to fall in behind unfounded accusations, destruction wreaked by these defenders of our rights is hard to prevent.

I submit as evidence an article in today's News Journal (DelawareOnline.com) entitled "Choose toys not only for fun value, but safety value" which continues the irresponsible and debunked attack on Zhu Zhu Pets. The article began:

"Zhu Zhu Pets may be the hottest holiday gifts for kids right now, but an investigation into whether the toy is dangerous was enough to deter Lilian Latan from buying one. Latan, who lives in Middletown, has two daughters, ages 6 and 4. She reads safety labels before buying toys and games and pays attention to investigations and recalls. 'Especially with the 4-year-old, I still have to be very careful' about her putting things in her mouth, Latan said. 'I read everything about a toy, and if it's small and if it's something that looks like candy, I won't buy it.'"

The article carries on:

"Still, there have been some high-profile recalls and investigations. The commission recently opened an investigation into the popular Zhu Zhu Pets after the consumer watchdog group GoodGuide reported that the toy hamsters contain higher-than-allowed levels of antimony. If ingested, the heavy metal can sicken children. Cepia, the maker of Zhu Zhu Pets, has disputed the findings."

In fact, as you know, the CPSC cleared these toys last week. Oops!

This is a current news article. Apparently, the News Journal didn't know that the CPSC cleared this toy, nor did Lilian Latan, the consumer. They both knew of the ironicly-named "GoodGuide" and its defective test report, however. That's the problem.

This kind of damage is almost certainly irremediable. Zhu Zhu Pets lost Lilian Latan through no fault of their own. Even the highly-publicized efforts of the CPSC to stop the unfair damage to the year's hottest toy couldn't stop this permanent loss of goodwill and good reputation.

It's time to tell the consumer advocates to stop the game-playing. The toy mania, ongoing for almost three years now, helped identify the abusive practices that we, the consuming public, must resist and oppose. While you are at it, demand more of your news outlets. Newspapers and other news outlets need to ask more questions and make sure they get the story right.

You don't need to live in a tabloid world - make your opinions heard!


Michael said...


The problem, of course, is that "if it bleeds, it leads."

Thus, any contrary argument, no matter how true does not get the same traction.

Moreover, *any* response will be somewhat technical, and will lose some of the audience.

Finally, there are a whole lot of rotten parents out there, who feel guilty about not spending enough time with their kids, so concern about 10th-order effects of products suddenly makes them good parents again.

Do not underestimate this factor.

My take on Zhu Zhu...


Steve said...


Perhaps when the CPSC recommends changes to the CPSIA law, they can include the authority to penalize erroneous claims such as the ones by Good Guide. New Zealand used such authority for a similar mishap concerning the kids pajamas "formaldehype" scare. In that case, the offending misreporter was fined 4000 NZ bucks. See: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10520850