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NBC 33 Safety Alert: Zhu Zhu Pet Concerns

POSTED: Tuesday, December 8, 2009 - 10:57am

UPDATED: Thursday, June 3, 2010 - 10:59pm

The hottest holiday toy has hit a speed bump right in the height of the shopping season. "Mr. Squiggles", one of the Zhu Zhu family members, has come under fire from a relatively unknown online consumer group.

"GoodGuide" is giving the toy low marks after their tests found unsafe levels of tin and the heavy metal antimony. "We found the chemical antimony at 93 parts per million in the fur of the Zhu Zhu Pet and 106 in the nose of the Zhu Zhu Pet. The federal standard for antimony is 60 parts per million," explains GoodGuide's Dara O'Rourke.

Cepia, the Missouri-based maker of the furry battery operated creatures, is firing back, saying the China-produced toys are safe and have been through rigorous testing. "These products are tested and retested and during the process of a single shipment are probably tested three to four different times, all showing these are absolutely wonderful safe products," says senior vice president Bruce Katz.

There is no recall but it has prompted the Consumer Product Safety Commission to open up its own investigation. Toy industry expert Jim Silver rates dozens of toys each year. "We found the Zhu Zhu pets to be fun and I consider them a safe toy," he said.

That's because he questions the "GoodGuide" testing methods, which were different from the new testing methods used by the government and Cepia. "They have most importantly, used a highly respected lab varieties and followed all safety guidelines and testing guidelines of the CPSC," Silver explained.

The concerns likely won't slow down the must-have toy. Zhu Zhu Pets are still flying off store shelves and fetching five times the retail price from resellers online.