Target hit with $600,000 penalty for violating 30-year-old ban on lead toys

Retail giant Target was hit with a $600,000 penalty by by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission for importing and selling hundreds of thousands of toys with excessive levels of lead paint --violating a 30-year ban.

Minneapolis-based Target Corp. agreed to the penalty to settle allegations the company imported a variety of toys with high levels of lead. The CPSC's staff accused Target of "knowingly" importing and selling the toys and failing "to take adequate action to ensure that no toys or children's products would bear lead-containing paint." Target denied those allegations.

Target officials did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment. UPDATE (12:30 p.m., 10/1): See Target's statement below.

The Chinese-made toys were imported and sold for $3-$10 between May 2006 and August 2007 at Target stores nationwide. The lead-tainted toys include Kool Toyz Products, Anima - Bamboo Collection Games, Happy Giddy Gardening Tools and Sunny Patch Chairs. The toys were recalled in 2007. At the time, the CPSC said Target had sold 350,000 of them. See more images of the products here.

(See what happened this week with Target Halloween flashlights.)

The federal ban on lead paint for toys has been in existence since 1978. Lead paint can lead to lead poisoning and a variety of negative health effects on children. CPSC issued a record 39 penalties in fiscal 2009 with a record $9.8 million assessed to companies - most of which were for lead paint violations and violations of a ban on drawstrings in children's clothing.

"These highly publicized toy recalls were among many that helped spur action last year to impose even stricter limits on lead paint on toys," CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum said in a statement. "This penalty should remind importers and retailers that they have always had the same obligation to meet the strict lead limits as the manufacturers."

Statement from Target:
"Target requires our national brand and owned-brand vendors to meet and comply with all laws regarding product safety. Based upon information provided by our vendors, Target believed that items in the product lines identified in the CPSC/Target civil penalty settlement did meet our standards and were compliant with all product safety laws when delivered to Target.

Subsequent testing revealed that some of the items contained paint with lead in excess of the federal standard. The CPSC and Target issued a voluntary recall of these lines in 2007 when this was discovered. These items are not currently sold at Target and we received no reports of injuries relating to these compliance violations.

Providing high-quality and safe products to our guests is a top priority for Target. Target currently employs a rigorous multi-stage testing program to monitor all owned-brand children's products and confirm that the products meet all applicable regulatory requirements, as well as Target's quality standards. Multi-stage testing catches potential quality and safety issues before and during production. Testing by a third-party lab occurs during the initial production run and at random intervals during ongoing production.",feedConfig,entry&id=363868&pid=363867&uts=1254409866
Recalled Children's Products
If you own any children's products or are going to buy some second-hand, this is a list that could help save a life. All have been recalled because they have put kids in peril -- with design flaws or defects that risk burns, broken bones and even death. Click through this gallery to view images of each product.
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