Evening Times

Toy firm in safety row hits back

Massive-selling hamster is ‘100% safe’, says boss

- By SARAH SWAIN

THE safety of a hit Christmas toy – the Mr Squiggles Go Go Hamster - was defended today by manufactur­ers following a health scare.

As many as 700,000 of the £10 battery-operated toys, which are made in China, are expected to be sold this Christmas, and parents are struggling to f i n d a ny left on the shelves.

Some are being sold on eBay for more than four times their price.

Consumer watchdogs tested the electronic pet and claimed they found t r a c e s o f a n t i m o ny beyond permitted levels.

The chemical, which is similar to arsenic, is restricted to 60 parts per mi l l i o n b e c au s e i t c a n cause headaches and dizziness.

B u t US G o o d G u i d e , which provides consumer informatio­n on products, said tests found the Mr Squiggles version of the hamster toy has 106 parts p e r mi l l i o n i n i t s n o s e and 93 parts per million in its fur.

Some reports had linked the chemical to “cancer, lung and heart problems”.

But Russ Hornsby, chief executive of Cepia LLC, the company behind the gift, said the battery-powered pet was “absolutely safe” and had passed the most “rigorous testing” for health and safety in the toy industry.

R u s s H o r n s by, c h i e f exe c u t ive o f t h e f i r m Cepia LLC, said in a statement: “We want to assure everyone already enjoy- ing and those planning to purchase Mr Squiggles or other Zhu Zhu Pets that the toy is 100% safe and in compliance with all US and European toy safety standards.

“I have been in the toy industry for more than 35 years, and being a father I would never allow any substandar­d or unsafe product to hit the shelves.

“That is why we always test to not only meet but also exceed safety standards.”

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