| The Bindeez beads which have been recalled from stores in the US and Australia
Washington, Nov. 8 (AP): Millions of Chinese-made toys have been pulled from shelves in North America and Australia after scientists found they contain a chemical that converts into a powerful “date rape” drug when ingested.
Two children in the US and three in Australia were hospitalised after swallowing the beads.
With only seven weeks until Christmas, the recall is yet another blow to an industry already bruised by a slew of recalls this past summer.
The toys are called Bindeez in Australia, where they were named toy of the year at an industry function this year. In the US, the toy goes by the name Aqua Dots, a highly popular holiday toy distributed by Toronto-based Spin Master Toys. Both are sold by Australia-based Moose Enterprises.
The firm said Bindeez and Aqua Dots are made at the same factory located in Shenzhen in China’s southern Guangdong province. The company said that the product is distributed in 40 countries but that it was up to the individual countries and distributors to determine whether the product would be pulled.
It was not immediately clear whether Aqua Dots beads are made in the same factories as the Bindeez product. Both are sold by Australia-based Moose Enterprises.
The toy beads can be arranged into designs and fused together when sprayed with water.
Scientists say a chemical coating on the beads, when ingested, metabolises into the so-called date rape drug gamma hydroxy butyrate. When eaten, the compound — made from common and easily available ingredients — can induce unconsciousness, seizures, drowsiness, coma and death. Naren Gunja from Australia’s Poisons Information Centre said the the drug’s effect on children was “quite serious... and life-threatening”.
The recall was announced yesterday by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission several hours after reports were published in the US about the recall in Australia.
The two US children who swallowed Aqua Dot beads went into non-responsive comas, commission spokesman Scott Wolfson said yesterday. A 20-month-old has recovered completely while the other child has been released from a hospital.