Wal-Mart Threatens Legal Action After Lab Finds Lead, Other Toxins In Pet Toys

Wal-MartWal-Mart is on a war path, and they are going after Expertox and ConsumerAffairs.com.

Expertox, a Texas lab, claimed that they found elevated levels of lead, chromium, and cadmium in two Wal-Mart pet toys. But Wal-Mart said the lab has “severely misinterpreted” the results. Expertox stands by their findings and said their results are “rock solid.”

Melissa O’Brien of Walmart’s corporate communication division sent ConsumerAffairs.com an email saying Wal-Mart disputed the lab’s results. She also warned ConsumerAffairs.com that they would be hearing from Wal-Mart’s attorneys.

She wrote: “After reviewing these test results provided to us today on the pet products in your story . . . the results of these tests actually prove the products are VERY safe. If these measurements are in fact the results, as you have reported, they have been severely misinterpreted by the director of ExperTox’s lab, if he is reporting these levels to be ‘high’ or dangerous. To the contrary by this lab’s own report, these levels are considered very low and actually much lower than what is acceptable by regulatory bodies in the U.S. and Europe for products, including children’s toys.”

O’Brien referenced to the ASTM F-963 (also known as the Standard Consumer Safety Specification on Toy Safety). She said that allows a limit of 90 parts per million for accessible lead in toys. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has a limit of 600 parts per million for the total lead in surface coating, she added.

She stated that Expertox’s tests showed 907.4 parts per million and this is 100 times less than the ASTM limit for toys and more than 600 times less than the CPSC limit.

O’Brien said that Wal-Mart uses independent labs that are focused on consumer product testing and data analysis, so “misinterpretations” are avoided.

“The conclusions drawn in this article appear to have been based on incorrect interpretations of the data, and based on the opinions of a person (who is) not an expert in consumer product testing,” O’Brien said.

She also demanded that ConsumerAffairs.com withdraw their story and threatened legal action if they do not comply.

But ConsumerAffairs.com is not easily scared by corporate tactics.

James R. Hood, ConsumerAffairs.com’s president and editor in chief, said: “Threatening the press with legal action is not a very good way to present your company’s point of view. If Wal-Mart wants to sue us, we will meet them in any court in the land and we look forward to what we will find in the discovery process. Until then, they should act like responsible corporate citizens instead of trying to silence consumer outlets with playground-bully tactics.”

He added: “America’s largest retailer owes more to its customers than trying to goon-squad its critics into silence.”

Expertox said they stand by their lab findings and the lab manager said Dr. Ernest Lykissa, Ph.D., director of ExperTox’s lab, is an expert with consumer product testing and has extensive experience testing Dow breast implants.

The Texas lab also stated that companies from all over the world go to them to test their products. The lab manager said she is not surprised about Wal-Mart’s attack on the lab’s results.

“We’ve had that argument before from major companies that we’ve misinterpreted the results,” she said. “But we’ve never been found liable of that. We get this defensiveness every time there is a question about a sample we test. And the larger the company, the more aggressive and defensive they are. This is consistent with what I’ve seen. It’s textbook for a large corporation.”

One pet toy company is not surprised by Expertox’s results. KONG, a Colorado based pet toy company, said that many companies enter the pet industry to simply make money and lose their ethics in the process. He added that he wasn’t aware of any governmental agencies that oversee pet toys.

Chuck Costello, director of marketing for KONG, said the three KONG toys that are made in China (Air KONG, KONG plush, and KONG Wubba) go through rigorous safety standards.

“All imported KONG product lines are tested by independent laboratories, once in China and again in the U.S. to prove they are safe and non-toxic,” Costello said. “Once products are received in the KONG warehouse they are again subjected to strict KONG quality control procedures.”

In response to the lab results, the CPSC said that it only regulates products (including toys) that hurt humans. They didn’t specify if that includes pet toys that could be handled by humans.

Source: ConsumerAffairs.com

41 thoughts on “Wal-Mart Threatens Legal Action After Lab Finds Lead, Other Toxins In Pet Toys

  1. OK, it’s 4:30am and I haven’t had any coffee yet…but even now I can see that 907.4 parts per million is in fact MORE than the limit of 90 parts per million set by the ASTM F-963 standard and is MORE than the 600 parts per million limit in the CPSC standard.

    Sooo…where does this Wal-Mart corporate bloodsucker (oops, I mean “lawyer”) get the idea that the tested toy was shown to have a “safe” level of lead?

    And how about this, Wal-Mart…maybe I don’t want my pets’ toys to have ANY lead on or in them? Maybe that’s why I don’t buy them from you!

  2. “Wal-Mart Threatens Legal Action”

    That’s consistent. Wal-Mart also likes to sue cities that don’t want yet another BIG BOX store.

    If Wal-Mart can afford lawsuits, they can afford to improve the safety of their products.

    I agree with Sky Eyes Woman – NO MORE TOXINS FOR MY PETS!

  3. Walmart is trying to force one of it’s big box stores down the throat of a long-standing residential neighborhood here in Austin. They are using the same bullying and threatening tactics. The city manager approved the deal and her husband works for Walmart. What’s wrong with this picture? They are crooks, plain and simple. If you shop there you support the poisoning of pets and children and the destruction of American life in our towns and cities.

  4. I guess we should thank WalMart for opening round 1 of consumer objections to the dilution theories, risk assessments and toxic cocktails we are being told are “acceptable tolerance levels”.

    It’s about time corporate america was forced to look at the LIST of toxins in a product, not just putting on blind folds and examining just one at a time….

    Paraphrasing one poster who commented about the lead in paint, duh- does your dog lick the walls, chew on them and play with them? Comparisions like those made in the original article are, in my opinion, designed to serve us one more distraction to what is really happening to our food supply and our pets.

  5. Converted to grams:

    0.0009074 Lead
    0.0003349 Chromium
    0.0002360 Cadmium

    Standards referrenced by Wal-Mart’s, Melissa O’Brien
    0.0000900 ASTM F-963 (Accessable Lead)
    0.0006000 CPSC (Surface Lead, total)

    Wal-Mart’s employee training program apparently doesn’t include basic math, but it does include corporate propaganda.

  6. I agree with all of you, no toxins & no Wal-Mart. It doesn’t look like Wal-Mart is scaring Expertox or Consumer Affairs very much. I think these two just might be the greatest gift we have to protect our human kids & our fur babies. I am going to keep Expertox & Consumer Affairs in my prayers.

  7. Exper-Tox and Consumer Affairs are doing more than standing up for themselves. They’re standing up for all of us as well.

    Thank, guys. We needed that.

  8. Wal-Mart,

    With deep thinkers like Melissa O’Brien (Walmart’s corporate communication division), no wonder you’re selling tained products.

    THAT level of ignorance is SCAREY – really, it is.

    SCAREY for pet owners, and DANGEROUS for pets.

  9. Walmart always tries the bully approach. They think their size and deep pockets are enough to make anyone back down.

    Well, stand behind your results and reporting, and COUNTERSUE WALMART!! I hope you do and TAKE MILLIONS and MILLIONS FROM THEM! News of Walmart trying to pressure these companies will be a welcome addition at the walmartsu… website.

    EXPERTOX and CONSUMERAFFAIRS . COM — YOU HAVE OUR SUPPORT! We know you are just doing your jobs and reporting what is there!

    Both of you have done so much to save thousands and thousands of pets by doing the testing and reporting the results.

    Maybe EXPERTOX CAN SUE WALMART for trying to discredit its lab and get a lot of money to expand. I hope they do because with all the toxic garbage we allow into our country, with Walmart being one of the largest importers of goods, we’re going to need Expertox’s expanded independent testing services because we know all too well to what degree our regulatory agencies monitor products.


    I’m not an advocate of suing by any means, but here??? YOU BET! I hope you’re rolling in money!!! TAKE WALMART FOR AS MUCH AS YOU CAN!

    And if Walmart does try to sue & pressure, this is even more reason for a boycott. Sooner or later, the masses, perhaps this holiday shopping season, will close their wallets to toxic, cheap imports!

  10. is there a way to contact Expertox and show them our support.

    WALMART will never want this to go to trial and blow the lid off the can of worms that will ripple across the nation and expose everything in that store that is ladened with poison and toxins.

    Walmart is China’s cesspool.


  11. HOW DARE WALMART act like they are untouchable. They have lost my business forever. It is a shame the uneducated, uninformed and oblivious masses will keep shopping there. I won’t even be buying cat litter there, the obnoxious bastards.

  12. I used to like Wallys but they are showing their true colors lately. I think Sam must be rolling over in his grave because he wanted a family-oriented company with all products proudly made in the USA. After he died, his family has made it into a profit grabbing, money hungry, screw the public corporation. I sure hope they are proud of what they built. Their profits are down & I can see why……people are beginning to see them for who they really are.

    How about this? Let’s not quibble over parts per million or parts per billion or whatever else you can come up with……how about safe toys, treats & food for our animals & how about safe toys for our kids? Hello…….does anyone out there who heads up a company fail to see how happy this would make consumers & how much they could boost the image of their company by doing so???????

    I guess I just don’t have a head for business……

  13. I, too, was thinking of contacting Expertox and consumeraffairs . com to show support, but I don’t want them taking their time reading our letters of support when we need them tracking down stories and busy in the labs doing the testing and reporting to protect our pets and us!

    I believe both of these places know about the two big pet sites and do come here to see what we say.

    Thank you, Expertox and consumeraffairs dot com. We support you fully and applaud your work!

  14. WalMart’s brainchild didn’t get the figures correct. Expertox said 907 micrograms (almost 1 ppm). The World Health Organization recently met with 48 countries to discuss lowering the safe limit from 90 to 6 ppm. 46 agreed, the US and China (big surprise) said no. This is for children. I never met a child who carried a favorite toy in his/her mouth at least 8 hours a day every day. I would imagine safe limits for dogs to be even lower. This doesn’t even mention the arsenic, chromium (remember Erin Brockovitch?), mercury, cadmium, etc. Does anyone really know the effects of a combination of toxic metals? WalMart has to come on strong, threatening lawsuits, rather than finding vendors that supply toys with lower levels. They say finding better vendors will raise prices. Can they tell me their stupid lawsuits don’t?


    from itcmo above…

    “Chuck Costello, director of marketing for KONG, said the three KONG toys that are made in China (Air KONG, KONG plush, and KONG Wubba) go through rigorous safety standards.

    “All imported KONG product lines are tested by independent laboratories, once in China and again in the U.S. to prove they are safe and non-toxic,” Costello said. “Once products are received in the KONG warehouse they are again subjected to strict KONG quality control procedures.”

    Mr. Costello:

    I was shocked to learn that some KONG toys are made in China, which I never would have dreamed of because some websites are touting the KONG brand as U.S.A.-made. Well, that’s only partially true. When I received my toy order, I didn’t even look at the “Made in ____” printing on the back of the package.

    I bought two AIR KONG toys made of the tennis ball material, a jack and a dumb bell, and my puppies destroyed them in just minutes after the package was received. The package said they were tough and durable. I looked at the cardboard backing and then saw they were MADE IN CHINA. I called to complain to your company and was factually told they were indeed made in China. All my puppies have to play with are their original red puppy KONG’s and a Nylabone.

    I hope your toys ARE rigorously tested because I’m getting my own lead test kits to test all products in my house. I refuse to buy any of your KONG products made in China. If you want to increase your sales, move ALL of your production to the U.S., using ALL U.S. materials and sit back and watch your profits soar. As you know, people are boycotting ALL China-made pet toys, yours included!

  16. I just went to Wal Mart to pick up just One thing. they still have all the dog and cat toys on the shelves. And it made Me so angry!!!!
    I say No more lead, not any. no more china, and no more wal Mart. I don’t want My children or pets exposed to any amount of lead. Period.

  17. I think that Wal-Mart should be careful about what they wish for. The 2008 Olympics will put a world wide spotlight on China and will show it for the communist country that it is. And by association, all the products they produce, and eventually those who are selling them to some of us (not me).
    Wal-Mart is getting too conceited about themselves and is overlooking the power of the internet to get the word out. China could be the beginning of their downfall which even though it may take many years, will be very satisfying to watch.
    Keep it up Expertox and Consumer Affairs! I wish you the very very best in this one because you speak for me and many others.

  18. Went to W-M yesterday–to conduct a “teaching” experience. Had someone with me who wanted to learn how to look for the often miniscule country of origin information on pet treats and toys.

    Her cats had some of the suspected toys at home; they were removed from play. My dog had all 4 of their latex toys; they were immediately removed from play after reading the Consumer Reports information. They have NOT been discarded, however, but are being held for possible further testing. It just so happened that when the toy story broke he was at his vet’s boarding and was able to have a thorough exam re: possible problems while there.

    Had an Rx to fill–it didn’t go to W-M but to the pharmacy of a local supermarket. The dog treats, etc. also came from the supermarket. I quit doing business with W-M after their failure to formally declare a recall of the Pingyang Pet Product/Shanghai Bestros chicken jerky treats after their findings showed traces of melamine.

    My friend now knows how to look for the “made in China” on various items and won’t be buying them in future. W-M is a fine place to show others exactly what we’re talking about.

  19. Sindy says: The 2008 Olympics will put a world wide spotlight on China and will show it for the communist country that it is. And by association, all the products they produce, and eventually those who are selling them to some of us (not me).

    Sindy, I seem to think that the Olympics will only show the good parts of China – the good regions, culture, dress, etc. How China was awarded being host of the Olympics, I’ll never know… We’ll I suspect…

    The same goes for the TV show, Survivor, which is scheduled to start next week. We’re going to be shown a beautiful stretch of country with pristine foliage, water, and vegetation. We’ll see some customs and dances displayed, and WE WON’T SEE THE DEPLORABLE FACTORY CONDITIONS, THE POVERTY, THE TESTS ON THE TOXIC, POLLUTED SOIL, WATERWAYS, AND AIR, THE FORBIDDEN PESTICIDES SPRAYED ON CROPS, THE OUTLAWED ANTIBIOTICS PUT IN THE WATER AT THE FISH FARMS, THE WAY THE FOOD IS GROWN THERE, THE WAY ANIMALS ARE TREATED.

    We’re only going to see the good side of things there. This time, the Survivor contestants WILL have a true survival situation.

    People need to dispose of anything in their homes that they bought from the time China was allowed into the WTO.

  20. And this is precisely why the Olympics is so important to China–their chance to orchestrate a “perfect” picture of their country.

    Anybody who can remember back to the old Soviet Union times knows how visitors from outside the Soviet Union were “managed” as to what they could see, what photos they were allowed to take, and even what people they might converse with. All designed to remove any negative impressions.

    Soviet propaganda showed their citizens images of our polluted areas, our ghettoes, etc., telling them this was the “real” America. Only those who passed muster with the Communist Party and had the $ to do so were allowed to get visas to actually visit here and see for themselves.

    The only difference here is that this time its China managing its image for the world.

  21. The biggest problem with Wal Mart is also that they are such a big conglomeration?, they have taken over all the other stores. We have one store to shop at. Wal Mart. I don’t go there often but most of the people in this town do.
    I have started ordering over the web, and making special orders from people who sell things .
    I make My own cat nip toys and have friends who make My dog toys now. all USA.
    I just saw on the news congress is having a 2 day session on the lead paint problem. they just said that Mattell and also Wal Mart was to blame for wanting the cheapest things they could get, and to heck with saftey. I’m so happy they mentioned Wal Mart.

  22. I’m also going to Lowes’ this weekend, another 2 hour trip, and get some lead paint test kits. I probably won’t have anything left in the house after i’m through. Too bad someone else, company, wasn’t paying for this.

  23. Here’s an example of the BS Brigade in action:


    September 19, 2007–Reuters

    China tries charm to convince world its goods safe

    “China went on a charm offensive on Wednesday to convince a skeptical world its products are safe, as a new poll in the United States found 78 percent of Americans were worried about the safety of Chinese goods.

    “The State Council, or cabinet, took a group of reporters on a carefully choreographed visit to sparkling pharmaceutical plants in Beijing’s neighboring city of Tianjin, led by smiling, relaxed officials unusually happy to answer questions.

    “The reputation of the made-in-China label has taken a battering, following several scandals involving tainted medicine and toothpaste as well as massive recalls of lead-contaminated Mattel toys in the United States.”

  24. And that is a bunch of BS from them, as usual. And THEY are the ones detecting more problems? I think We are the ones detecting more problems. Just more spin. and did they show all the companys’.? And all the hidden ones?

  25. Good find, Menusucks!

    “…a new poll in the United States found 78 percent of Americans were worried about the safety of Chinese goods.”

    MAYBE the U.S. MASSES ARE WAKING UP! Maybe some parents should get their children testing for lead and other heavy metal poisoning from playing with some of these toys.

    If this percentage of people (78%) IS worried, let them speak by keeping their wallets closed to Walmart, Target, big box importers, and dollar-type stores!

    I was also surprised to learn that a high percentage of our lumber comes from Asia. I wonder what soil these trees grew in and what vapors they release?? Even wood furniture is suspect, not to mention the foam cushions, the batting, and fabric.

    Soon, I’m going through my house with at least the lead test kits and checking things in my house. If I have to go “retro style” and replace toxic imported items with older style things at yard sales and rummage sales, I will. I don’t care what my house looks like style-wise; I WANT safety!

    Let’s see… China joined the WTO in Dec. 2001. Did we received items from China before this, too, although it was not a formally-accepted trade partner? I thought I read something about the mid 1990’s… Anyone?

  26. The sad part is a lot of people are truly intimidated by threats of legal action. What most people don’t realize is this sort of thing is typically pure bluff. Truth is an absolute defense against libel or slander. WalMart may be a lot of things, but stupid enough to file a suit that will get kicked out on summary judgement, with their attorneys sanctioned, and a three ring media circus to boot, isn’t one of them.

    Too bad really, as there are enough media sources that hate WalMart to draw some real attention to the problem if WalMart were dumb enough to file suit.

  27. I know that the propaganda machine will be out in full force for the 2008 Olympics but remember the internet.
    People will have cell phones with cameras which will be able to show what China really is on Youtube. Maybe websites will start up on the “Real Survivor- China”. It’s a different kind of world than the one Russia had to deal with and it’s the people who will make the difference, not the government.
    There is still a lot of time before the Olympics in which this whole recall world can be exposed.
    It would be funny to see how the “survivors” of Survivor China held up with their contaminated waters and air pollution. Did they suffer any side effects?

  28. In regards to the new Survivor being filmed entirely in China – DON’T WATCH IT AT ALL, any of it! The OLYMPICS – same thing. When broadcasters see we will not allow this into our homes nor participate in any of the products in the commercials behind these shows or buy anything it might do some good that way also. Withdraw your support and put it behind american companies with healthy, lead free, toxin free food, etc. The more support we give to them the more they will continue with business as usual and laugh at us all the way to the bank!

  29. I have already planned to watch Ugly Betty instead of Survivor in protest. I wish Survivor would just go away anyways. I hope I never have to see a Survivor 23 or a Big Brother 39. Producers, get creative and give us something new to watch. Olympics are also a no go here too. Must say, that’s the first time I will not watch them in my whole life. Never missed an opening ceremony until now.

  30. In addition to the other heinous things about China. The practice of organ harvesting is very frightening. Over a year ago women from China with very frightened faces were passing out newspapers about the Falun Gong practitioners who get arrested for their beliefs thrown in prison and their organs harvested. They had no solutions…they did not speak English…they were just trying to get the word out. It is interesting that the Falun Gong would be targeted (possibly because the don’t smoke or drink). Their bodies are mostly toxin free. I saw these women passing out their newspaper for 4 months in a row, then they simply vanished. This was long before the pet food recall. I was appalled, but my friends and family wouldn’t even look into it. They have this much disregard for their own citizens…not too much of a stretch to see how much regard they would have for our pets or our children. Hope our athletes take their own food with them when they do the olympics. I won’t be watching.

  31. Concha Castaneda says: “Hope our athletes take their own food with them when they do the olympics. I won’t be watching.”

    I was watching a CNN show on the Olympics in China. The broadcaster said that food and water would be brought in especially for the Olympic village since bottled water in China is not safe to drink.
    I wonder if people going to the Olympics realize how unsafe water will be even if its bottled thinking its OK to drink. Also the food…..Yuck…….

  32. Not surprised about this. Did you know more than 70 percent of goods on Wal-Mart’s shelves come from China?

    My organization at WakeUpWalMart released a scathing report that illustrates Wal-Mart’s too close for comfort relationship with China. Scary stuff.

  33. If you ask me, there should be no “safe” limit for lead in anything touched or eaten by consumers on a regular basis. Lead should be banned from use in consumer products. It used to be that people just read food labels on products to see what is in them. I read all labels on everything I buy, tools, appliances or anything I touch. If you read the fine print on many product labels, it tells you in black and white, (too small for most people to see) “this product contains lead”. I walked out of a hardware store the other day when the three things I wanted to buy all contained lead, and said so right on the label! Along with, “Wash Hands after use” “Made in China” by an American company.
    Walmart should of just said, sorry we missed this, took the product off the shelf, and we’ll be more careful next time, and let it go. But now they threw logs on their own fire.

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