Durban - Baby City has issued a national recall of 188 Zany Zebra toys, across its 23 stores.
This followed a customer complaint that a yellow dye that killed people in the 1980s may be contained in it.
Managing director, Michel Aronoff, said the company had confirmed that a batch of Bright Starts Zany Zebra plush toys sold in South Africa might have a toxic yellow dye.
Aronoff said he researched the issue after a customer had alerted him on October 2 and said the dye was visible on the foot of the Zebra.
Local suppliers became aware of it the same day, prompting the recall. “Although the dye is in the fibre and unlikely to leach, we felt any contact would be unacceptable,” said Aronoff.
The chemical 4-Aminoazobenzine, known as Aniline Yellow, was behind the 1981 “Spanish toxic oil syndrome”.
It can be found in inkjet printers, varnishes, waxes and a range of products not suitable for human consumption.
A Madrid-based company distilled oil dyed with aniline and sold it as olive oil for cooking. This resulted in a rash of pneumonia-type illnesses, killing about 400 people and up to 20 000 people reportedly became sick after ingesting it.
Kids II Inc, an international company that produces the toy through Chinese manufacturers, said there had been “no report of injuries or illness from this product”. Its South African representative, Claudia Shehab, said the concern was brought to their attention by a customer who read an article in the UK and immediately contacted Aronoff from Baby City.
She said all Kids II products were certified by accredited, independent, third party laboratories and were regularly tested.
But, due to their mutual concern for their customers’ wellbeing, they decided to uplift all stock. “This decision was taken prior to the statement by Kids II Atlanta that this Zebra was tested and passed all required tests by the third parties,” said Shehab.
Baby City had sold most of the affected toys in South Africa, but Kids II was contacting other retailers as well. Consequently, 188 Zebras have been recalled nationally, across all 23 Baby City stores, she said.
Only the Zebra with the model code “Q 3172” sewn on to them are affected by the recall.
Earlier this year, the same product, but model “Q 9078” was recalled in Europe by Kids II.
The use of 4-Aminoazobenzine then was discovered as a result of a separate third party test in Germany, although Kids II said it had not been able to see or validate those results.
Through social networking and a database of customers, Baby City is urging the public to return the product regardless of its condition, for a refund.
Other stores, like Toys R Us Amanzimtoti and Gateway Theatre of Shopping Mall, have also received the warning and recalled stock.
Julie Chetty, assistant manager of Toys R Us Gateway, said: “We received an e-mail about the toy and had a serious meeting. We took the product off the shelves.” - Daily News