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7 more children fall ill from tainted toy

Chinese-made Aqua Dots have been recalled in several countries.

November 10, 2007|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Seven more U.S. children were sickened after ingesting Chinese-made toy beads that were recalled earlier this week because of a toxic chemical coating, the government said Friday.

The reports of the sickened children, six of whom were hospitalized, came from at least five states: Texas, Delaware, New Hampshire, Illinois and Utah, according to a spokeswoman for the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The agency recalled the Spin Master Aqua Dots toy Wednesday after two children were hospitalized because they had eaten beads covered with a chemical that metabolizes into the compound gamma hydroxy butyrate -- the so-called date-rape drug.

The compound can induce unconsciousness, seizures, drowsiness, coma and death.

Spokeswoman Julie Vallese said the agency received reports Thursday and Friday of seven additional children sickened by the product, bringing the total to nine. Product recalls frequently spur additional reports of harmed consumers, she said.

The recall covers 4.2 million of the Aqua Dots toys, which consist of colored beads that can be arranged into designs and then fused together when sprayed with water.

The agency received its first report of a sickened child Monday and ordered stores to pull the toy two days later, Vallese said.

In China, the government's quality-control administration issued an export ban on toys covered with the toxic chemical, sealed the toys at production sites and ordered an investigation, the state-run New China News Agency reported late Friday.

The toys are manufactured in China for Australia-based Moose Enterprises, which sells them in 40 countries. The toys, which are sold as Aqua Dots in the United States and as Bindeez in Australia, were recalled in those countries as well as Britain, Malaysia, Singapore and elsewhere this week after tests showed they were coated with the chemical.

In the United States, the product safety council follows up with retailers to ensure they are no longer selling a recalled product by visiting stores and performing Web surveillance, Vallese said.

The agency also reaches out to online auction sites and second-hand stores to ensure they don't resell the goods.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said it had directed its stores to remove the toys from shelves and placed a stop on the products at its cash registers.

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