Monday, August 13, 2007

Owner of Factory That Made Tainted Toys Kills Himself

This just in from the BBC: Chinese toy boss 'kills himself'

The boss of a Chinese toy firm involved in a huge safety recall has committed suicide, Chinese media has said. Zhang Shuhong, who co-owned the Lee Der Toy Company, was reportedly found dead at his factory in southern China.

About 1.5 million toys made for Fisher Price, a subsidiary of US giant Mattel, were withdrawn from sale earlier this month. Many were made by Lee Der.

The recalled toys include characters from Sesame Street's Big Bird and Elmo, and Nickelodeon's Dora the Explorer.

Zhang killed himself on Saturday, according to the Southern Metropolitan Daily and other news sources.

He reportedly hanged himself in his factory.

"When I rushed there around 5pm, police had already sealed off the area," the newspaper quoted a manager at the firm as saying. "I saw that our boss had two deep marks in his neck."

The news report did not give a reason for Zhang's apparent suicide, but Lee Der was known to be under pressure after the huge product recall.

Fisher Price announced on 2 August that it was recalling some of Lee Der's Chinese-made toys, in a move affecting 83 product-types sold around the world, including the US and the UK.

An internal investigation found the toys had been made using a non-approved paint pigment which contained excessive amounts of lead, violating safety standards.

A manager at Lee Der blamed its paint supplier for the incident, according to the Southern Metropolitan Daily.

Chinese-made products have come under increasing international scrutiny in recent months, after a series of safety scandals.

Note: While the BBC reports the name of the toy company as Lee Der, American news reports report the name as Lida.

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