Millions of toys recalled; contain 'date rape' drug
WASHINGTON (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 U.S. and three in Australia were hospitalized after swallowing the beads.
With only seven weeks until Christmas, the recall is yet another blow to the toy industry -- already bruised by a slew of recalls this past summer.
In the United States, the toy goes by the name Aqua Dots, a highly popular holiday toy distributed by Toronto-based Spin Master Toys. They are called Bindeez in Australia, where they were named toy of the year at an industry function earlier this year.
It could not immediately be learned 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 are sold in general merchandise stores and over the Internet for use in arts and crafts projects. They can be arranged into designs and fused together when sprayed with water.
Scientists say a chemical coating on the beads, when ingested, metabolizes 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 Center said the drug's effect on children was "quite serious ... and potentially life-threatening."
The recall was announced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission on Wednesday several hours after published reports about the recall in Australia.