Magnabild Magnetic Building Set Recall Results in U.S. CPSC Fine

U.S. Toymaker Battat Incorporated has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $400,000 for allegedly failing to report problems with magnetic toys, which have been blamed for the death of at least one child. 

According to the  U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the penalty agreement resolves allegations that Battat knowingly failed to report the defect and hazards associated with their Magnabild Magnetic Building Sets to the regulatory agency immediately, as required by federal law.

Designed for ages three and up, the Magnabild was a building set that included small magnets to allow the pieces to attach. Due to problems with the design, the small magnets were prone to fall out and posed a swallowing hazard for young children, according to the CPSC.

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In addition to a possible choking hazard, if the small magnets from the building set are swallowed, the CPSC warns that the small magnets may attract to each other inside the body, causing internal injuries, such as intestinal blockage and possibly death.

According to a 2006 report from the CPSC, there were at least 34 incidents involving small magnets, including one death and four serious injuries associated with Magnabild Magnetic building sets. A 20-month-old boy died after he swallowed magnets that twisted his small intestine and created a blockage. Three other children, ages ranging from 3 to 8, suffered intestinal perforations that required surgery and hospitalization in intensive care. A 5-year-old child aspirated two magnets that were surgically removed from his lung.

The following year, at least 1,500 incidents of magnets separating from the building pieces were reported.

A report issued last month by the American Academy of Pediatrics highlighted the dangers of magnet toys for children, indicating that they were aware of at least 200 incidents of children swallowing high-powered magnets since 2008, which were part of toy sets.

When the small magnets are swallowed and attract to each other, it is often necessary for the child to undergo surgery to remove the magnets, which can result in further damage to the child’s stomach and intestines

CPSC staff alleges that Battat was aware of the dangers posed to children by the ingestion of magnets by this time.  Despite being aware in April or May 2006 of the possibility that small magnets could cause intestinal injury, the CPSC claims Battat did not report the problems until October 2007, after three requests from staff. In that report, however, Battat failed to inform CPSC of the defect and resulting potential hazard in two additional models of the product.

Federal law requires manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to report to CPSC immediately (within 24 hours) after obtaining information reasonably supporting the conclusion that a product contains a defect which could create a substantial product hazard, creates an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death, or fails to comply with any consumer product safety rule or any other rule, regulation, standard, or ban enforced by CPSC.

In agreeing to the settlement, Battat denies CPSC staff allegations that its Magnabild toys could create an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death or contained a defect that could create a substantial product hazard, or that Battat violated the reporting requirements of the Consumer Product Safety Act.

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