Build-A-Bear workshop is recalling 300,000 "Colorful Hearts" teddy bears because the eyes could loosen and fall out, posing a choking hazard to children, according to an announcement made by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. A press release states that the 16-inch high, heart-patterned bear was made available through Build-A-Bear Workshop's website and stores from about April to December of this year.
No injuries have been reported so far.
This statement marks the third time this year the do-it-yourself stuffed animal workshop has recalled products due to safety concerns. It comes in the wake of the CPSC's announcement on Dec. 16 that Build-A-Bear had agreed to pay a $6,000 civil penalty for failing to report a dangerous defect in a line of toy beach chairs sold between 2001 and 2009.
"The sharp edges of the chair's folding wooden frame can pinch, lacerate or amputate a child's fingertip if the finger is caught between the frame as the chair is folded," the CPSC said in a press release. "The company became aware of 10 reports of injury between July 2007 and January 2009, yet did not report to the Commission until March 2009."
A few months before that announcement was made, the CPSC announced in a Aug. 4 press release that the company had voluntarily recalled about 26,500 "Love Hugs Peace Lapel Pins," also manufactured in China, that contained excessive amounts of lead-based paint.
In an email statement to STLtoday.com, Build-A-Bear spokeswoman Jill Saunders wrote that all toys sold in Build-A-Bear stores must first pass an evaluation performed by an independent laboratory.
In the case of the Colorful Heart bears, Saunders believes that "substandard fabric" may be to blame for the eyes tearing out of the toy.
"We discovered the issue while doing ongoing quality and safety checks and immediately reported the issue to the CPSC and began the recall process," Saunders wrote. "That we have conducted three product recalls this year despite the fact that we have not received a single injury report related to any of those three products clearly demonstrates how seriously we take product safety."
The company may have to do more in the future to appease the fears of consumer advocates. STLtoday.com asked Ed Mierzwinski, a consumer advocate working for the National Association of State Public Interest Research Groups, about Build-A-Bear's recent strings of recalls.
"This company--its recent time line--gives me some concern that they really need to review their management and their risk analysis to make sure they are in compliance with the law to protect children," Mierzwinski said in response.