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McDonald's recall of 'Shrek' glasses raises disturbing questions

How did paint containing the toxic metal cadmium get in about 12 million drinking glasses sold by the fast-food chain? Nobody seems to know or is willing to say publicly.

June 11, 2010|David Lazarus

Yet McDonald's says it agreed to recall the glasses "in an abundance of caution" after being notified by the safety agency that Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough) had received an anonymous tip about cadmium in the paint.

It's unclear whether McDonald's tested the glasses before they went on sale or only after Speier voiced concern about cadmium in the paint. Howard, the company spokeswoman, couldn't be reached for comment on the matter.

"It's very unnerving that it took a tip to a member of Congress to get something moving," Speier told me.

Speier said it seems unlikely the paint originated in Europe, where safety regulations for hazardous materials are much stricter than in the United States. She suspects it came from China, one of the world's leading producers of cadmium.

Speier wants to expand current regulations to include a ban on cadmium in all products marketed to or intended for kids.

That's a good start. I'd go a step further and require companies to clearly identify the country of origin for all components and ingredients.

It's not about imposing more onerous rules on businesses. It's about accountability for products sold, especially when kids are involved.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission says it will have new cadmium rules available for public comment this summer.

David Lazarus' column runs Tuesdays and Fridays. He also can be seen daily on KTLA-TV Channel 5. Send your tips or feedback to

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