Hours before trick-or-treaters began going door to door, the government warned consumers Wednesday that fake Halloween teeth sold by the tens of thousands since last year contain excessive amounts of lead.
The $2 packages of “Ugly Teeth” are only the latest in a long line of Chinese-made toys and novelty items recalled because of lead. The Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the recall in a late-morning news release.
In an interview, the commission’s acting head defended the last-minute action in notifying consumers. Nancy Nord said the possible danger was not brought to the agency’s attention until late last week.
She said the commission then worked quickly to assess the problem and issue an announcement. “Whenever we find a violation, we immediately order a recall,” Nord said. “Comparatively, it’s not a huge recall and thanks to the news media, the word is getting out.”
The agency estimates that since January 2006, retailers have sold about 43,000 eight-piece packages of the party favors. There were no immediate reports of injuries or illness.
Amscan Inc. of Elmsford, N.Y., imported the fake teeth. A message left with the company was not immediately returned.
CBS News reported Monday that a chemistry professor at Ohio’s Ashland University tipped off the agency about the joke teeth after testing a variety of Halloween-themed items for lead content. Paint on the teeth contained 100 times the allowable level of lead, according to the broadcast report.
Millions of Chinese-made toys have been recalled in recent months. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., this week urged the commission’s head, Nancy Nord, to resign. Pelosi said Nord has failed to see the gravity of the situation and continues to oppose legislation that would double her agency’s dollars and give it more authority.
Nord said Wednesday she has no intention of resigning. She said the commission is an enforcement agency that acts once it becomes aware of complaints. Nord said she supports more money and workers at the agency, but wants to make sure the additional dollars are spent appropriately.