Reebok Fined Record $1 Million for Leaden Bracelets
WASHINGTON, DC, March 19, 2008 (ENS) - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced today that Reekbok, a manufacturer of athletic shoes and apparel, has agreed to pay the federal government a one million dollar civil penalty.

This fine is the largest ever imposed for a violation of the Federal Hazardous Substances Act. In agreeing to settle the matter, Reebok denies that it violated federal law.

One of the Reebok bracelets containinga toxic amount of lead. (Photo courtesy Reebok)

The penalty settles allegations that Reebok International Ltd., of Canton, Massachusetts, imported and distributed charm bracelets that contained toxic levels of lead.

The charm bracelets were provided as free gifts with the purchase of certain styles of Reebok girl's shoes. In March 2006, a four year-old boy from Minneapolis died of lead poisoning after swallowing a bracelet's heart-shaped charm.

The Federal Hazardous Substances Act bans toxic levels of accessible lead in toys and other children's products. The Consumer Product Safety Commission's enforcement policy urges manufacturers of children's metal jewelry to keep lead content below 0.06 percent by weight.

Lead poisoning in children is associated with behavioral problems, learning disabilities, hearing problems, and growth retardation. A child who swallows large amounts of lead may develop anemia, kidney damage, colic, muscle weakness, and brain damage, which can be fatal.

"This civil penalty sends a clear message that the CPSC will not allow companies to put children's safety at risk," said Nancy Nord, acting chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. "Preventing dangerous metal jewelry from reaching the hands of children is a priority for our agency."

On March 23, 2006, Reebok began a voluntary recall of approximately 510,000 heart-shaped charm bracelets that were manufactured in China and distributed worldwide beginning in May 2004.

Since the announcement, the recall has been executed in more than 25 countries in North America, South America, Latin America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and elsewhere, the company says.

The vast majority of the shipments - approximately 485,000 - went to retailers in the United States and Europe. The company continues to ask consumers who may have these bracelets in their homes to discard them immediately.

As part of this massive recall, Reebok says the company has worked cooperatively with regulators and officials in every global market to reach consumers through a variety of means that differ by region, including news releases, media reports, toll-free telephone lines, websites, in-store posters, and paid advertisements.

Reebok has also contacted its retail partners worldwide, as well as most independent sellers, to make sure they are aware of the recall and the appropriate recall procedures.

Efforts have been made to contact consumers who may have obtained these bracelets as part of purchases made on the Reebok website. The company has deployed staff in key markets to ensure that the bracelets are no longer available at retail stores.

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