After ConsumerAffairs.com reported that Expertox, a Texas lab, found elevated levels of lead, cadmium, and chromium in two Wal-Mart pet toys, the pet industry said they are taking notice and action.
American Pet Products Manufacturers Association’s (APPMA) President Bob Vetere said everyone in the pet industry has been alerted of the lab findings and are making sure products are being tested and are safe.
He stated: “And the reaction from virtually everyone Iâ€™ve talked to about the story is: â€˜Wait a minute. We didnâ€™t know about this. Hello, whatâ€™s going on?â€™ And theyâ€™ve called their vendors and suppliers to be sure theyâ€™re testing the products. Itâ€™s good that you got this out there so they (our members) could know, and they are pushing very hard on their vendors now to get those test results. If nothing else, everyone is now aware of this in the industry.â€
Despite the reported risks and lab reports, Wal-Mart tried to spin the story by using their public relations firm, Edelman. Instead of testing their toys and being concerned, the company said that Expertox “severely misinterpreted” their findings. They asked ConsumerAffairs.com to retract their story and threatened legal action against them if they did not comply.
After hearing about the lab findings, two veterinarians said the levels that Expertox found did not pose a health risk to pets. But one doctor who specializes in the removal of metals from humans disagrees. He said that people should be worried if lead gets into a pet or human’s body.
Dr. Rashid Buttar, head of the Center for Advanced Medicine and Clinical Research in North Carolina, said: â€œPoison is poison. Iâ€™m a dog lover and, no, I donâ€™t want my dog to be chewing on a dog toy that has lead. Itâ€™s absolutely worrisome to me if that green monster toy gets in a toddlerâ€™s mouth.â€
Buttar did say that the levels found in the toys are common. He said that children are being exposed to lead all over the place. These small amounts of lead can accumulate to be harmful and cause negative health effects.
Vetere said he was at a pet show in Las Vegas when the lab results came out, and the people in the industry he spoke to were extremely concerned about Expertox’s findings. He said they want to make sure that pets stay safe and healthy.
â€œThereâ€™s certainly cause for everybody to pay attention to this report,â€ Vetere stated. â€œSome people might say â€˜oh my goodness, how can this happen?â€™ And another group might say the results are bogus. But as with any crisis, everybodyâ€™s got to take a deep breath, check the information, and check their products. And thatâ€™s whatâ€™s happening now.â€
He added that most pet toy companies test their products routinely for lead and other toxins.
Vetere also said that the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is the “most common sense” federal agency to oversee pet products. He said the APPMA is willing to work with them and help them in regards to this issue.
However, the CPSC still remains quiet about Expertox’s findings. A spokesman said the CPSC only oversees products that harm humans. He did not address the possible risk to children and adults who may handle pet toys.
Vetere said he shared pet owners’ concerns about the lab results and assured consumers that they take these results seriously.
He added: â€œOur members are as on top of this as they can be and they are on top of making sure their products are safe. Most people in the pet industry are in it because they love pets and they are as concerned as any pet owner out there.â€
On a side note, Edelman, Wal-Mart’s public relations firm, has not had a clean record. Last year, they were involved in a fake-blog scandal. Edelman employees were creating pro Wal-Mart blogs under false identities.