CBS’s Storm: 'Why Even Buy Toys' for Christmas?

Continuing the sky-is-falling mantra about lead laden toys, on Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Hannah Storm asked Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) spokeswoman, Julie Vallese:

...you are standing there, Julie, among a whole group of toys, 61 recalls, a third of those because of lead paint. Why don't you tell us as parents, why we just shouldn't buy books and clothes and pets this Christmas? Why even buy toys?

Of course that followed Julie Chen’s assertion on October 31 that Halloween and Christmas had been "ruined" because of the CPSC. It also complimented Lesley Stahl’s rant against the fast food industry on Sunday’s "60 Minutes." Not to be out done in alarmism, Storm began the segment by warning, "Millions of toys tainted with lead have been recalled so far this year, so it's tough to know what toys are actually safe to buy this holiday season."

Storm then assumed the role of toy safety expert with her first question to Vallese, "You guys have issued your top five toy hazards, but lead is not on the list. Why not, with all the lead recalls this year?"

After Vallese explained that toys that could cause choking were more likely "hazards that do injure and sometimes even kill kids," Storm brushed the safety tips aside and again focused on the recalls:

But Julie, with all these recalls, over 60 recalls, it's so tough for parents to keep track of what's safe and what's not. You mentioned you have a family, what are you buying the kids in your family for Christmas?

Who would ask a parent to announce what they are buying their children for Christmas on national television?

Finally, Storm ended the segment by condemning the CPSC for doing its job:

Okay so, how many of the toys that are on the shelves right now when we go shopping, how many of those have you tested? Can you assure us that everything on the shelves right now is safe?...But, Julie, how do they get on the shelves in the first place? I mean why isn't there a mechanism in place to not have these toys get here in the first place, instead of us trying to keep track of millions of recalls and you guys back pedaling and trying to get these things off the shelves? How are they getting here in the first place?

As Vallese then pointed out, "It's not back pedaling. It's a commitment and it is our authority to pull products, hazardous products, off the shelf."

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

HANNAH STORM: Millions of toys tainted with lead have been recalled so far this year, so it's tough to know what toys are actually safe to buy this holiday season. But the "Early Show Moms Against Lead" are on the case. Joining us is Julie Vallese, spokeswoman for the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Good morning, Julie.

JULIE VALLESE: Good morning. Nice to see you, Hannah.

STORM: Nice to see you. You guys have issued your top five toy hazards, but lead is not on the list. Why not with all the lead recalls this year?

VALLESE: Lead is an important issue. It's one to keep out of a child's environment, but I think that a lot of parents, while they may be focused on lead, are forgetting about the true risks. You know, its not your child's dollhouse, when it comes to lead, that's going to actually be an injury. It is your own house, and that's where parents should be focused if they want to really tackle the issue of lead. Now, taking lead out of a child's environment is important, but when you're shopping for toys, when you're bringing toys into your home, you really do need to know the hazards that do injure and sometimes even kill kids.

STORM: So, we're looking at ride-on toys, toys with small parts, magnets, projectile toys, and toys with chargers and adapters. And you are standing there, Julie, among a whole group of toys, 61 recalls, a third of those because of lead paint. Why don't you tell us as parents, why we just shouldn't buy books and clothes and pets this Christmas? Why even buy toys?

VALLESE: Well, if those are on your kids' lists, by all means, go ahead and buy those. Those are absolutely wonderful gifts. But let's have a little bit of a reality check, and we know children will be asking for toys. In my house, Christmas wouldn't be the same without them. And so, we want parents to really focus on where is the risk for their child. And we do know that it's choking, inhaling small parts, that children do go on riding toys and get hit by cars. And so, we want parents to choose the appropriate gifts, the age-appropriate gifts, interest and skill level for their kids. And that's really a great way to end up protecting them.

STORM: But Julie, with all these recalls, over 60 recalls, it's so tough for parents to keep track of what's safe and what's not. You mentioned you have a family, what are you buying the kids in your family for Christmas?

VALLESE: Well, my kids have quite a long list, but we will decide, you know, when we go shopping what we really feel is appropriate for our kids. And my kids do have toys on their list, but we don't want to make it all about the toys in my house. So, when you talk act these 61 recalls, we want parents to understand that earlier this year when we realized that there was a violation of lead paint in the system, we did a top-to-bottom real inspection and scrutinization of the toys on the shelves. And the toys that are on the shelves this year have been more heavily investigated and scrutinized than any year in the past.

STORM: Okay so, how many of the toys that are on the shelves right now when we go shopping, how many of those have you tested? Can you assure us that everything on the shelves right now is safe?

VALLESE: Well, I don't think we can say we have inspected everything that's in the market place. What we have done, the CPSC, as well as industry, have reassured -- gone back, and made a commitment to do a top-to-bottom inventory of those shelves. You know, since the CPSC opened it's doors, we've announced recalls, every year since 1973, recalls have been announced. That is part of our responsibility, to remove products that are in violation of the law and --

STORM: But, Julie, how do they get on the shelves in the first place? I mean why isn't there a mechanism in place to not have these toys get here in the first place, instead of us trying to keep track of millions of recalls and you guys back pedaling and trying to get these things off the shelves? How are they getting here in the first place?

VALLESE: Well, it's our responsibility and that's the authority that we have. It's not back pedaling. It's a commitment and it is our authority to pull products, hazardous products, off the shelf. And I think that there's really two different things. There's violation of laws and there's defects, that in the manufacturing process, those defects are not always well-known. But the CPSC does investigate and find those toys and pull them off the shelves. Parents need --

STORM: All right, Julie. We want to tell people at home they can find the CPSC toy alerts by going on to our web site at cbsnews.com. That's Julie Vallese, we'll be right back.

 

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC