Spin Master’s $1.3 Million Civil Penalty
Written by Faith Anderson on November 9, 2011
Spin Master Failed to Report Illnesses Caused by Ingesting Aqua Dots
CPSC staff alleges that by the middle of October 2007, Spin Master had received reports that children, and a dog, had become ill and received emergency medical treatment after ingesting Aqua Dots. On October 18, 2007, Spin Master learned that Aqua Dots contained 1,4-butylene glycol (TMG), which metabolizes to the controlled substance gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB) upon ingestion. The following day, the company learned that TMG is harmful if swallowed, and targets the kidneys and central nervous system when ingested. Although Spin Master had enlisted an outside testing company to evaluate the toxicity of the product, the testing was apparently inadequate.
The CPSC claims that in the following days and weeks, Spin Master continued to receive reports of children becoming ill after ingesting Aqua Dots. The firm also learned that children who ingested a similar product containing TMG, which was manufactured by the same overseas factory, had fallen ill as well. In violation of federal law, Spin Master failed to report in a timely manner any of the incidents to the CPSC. In November 2007, CPSC received two reports of injuries involving children who had ingested Aqua Dots, become ill, fallen into comas, and required hospitalization.
CPSC Initiates Aqua Dots Recall Due to Serious Hazard
On November 5, 2007, CPSC notified Spin Master of an ingestion illness report that it had received. Shortly thereafter, Spin Master and the CPSC announced a voluntary recall of about 4.2 million units of Aqua Dots. The recall announcement indicated that children who swallow the beads can become comatose, have seizures, or develop respiratory depression. The CPSC alleges that the chemical composition of Aqua Dots rendered the product a banned hazardous substance, and federal law prohibits the importation and sale of these dangerous substances.
Federal law requires manufacturers, retailers and distributors to report to the CPSC within 24 hours after obtaining information reasonably supporting the conclusion that a product contains a defect which could create a considerable product hazard, creates an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death, or fails to comply with any consumer product safety regulation, standard or ban enforced by the CPSC. In agreeing to the $1.3 million settlement, Spin Master denies CPSC staff allegations that the company knowingly violated the law.