Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Insidious Plot to Turn Australian Children Into Ravers Sours
"A POPULAR children's toy found to contain a chemical that the human body turns into the party drug "fantasy", or "GHB", has been banned in three states and is being recalled by its Melbourne creator.
With the Melbourne Cup holiday yesterday, the Brumby Government is yet to decide whether it will follow NSW, ACT, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory in banning the award-winning craft toy called Bindeez.
Three children, two in NSW and one in Queensland, have been admitted to hospital in the past 10 days after ingesting the toy's beads.
The toy is produced by Melbourne company Moose and won this year's toy of the year award at the Melbourne Toy and Hobby Fair. Bindeez consists of colourful craft beads that are joined together to create designs. They are sprayed with water to fix them.
The company yesterday ordered a nationwide recall of the Chinese-made product, saying a chemical had been substituted without the company's knowledge. The toy contains beads that have been found to contain a chemical that the body metabolises into gamma-hydroxy butyrate (GHB), also known as "grievous bodily harm". It should instead contain a non-toxic glue.
Scientists in NSW discovered the chemical's link to GHB, which can have serious effects such as seizures and is potentially life-threatening.
NSW Minister for Fair Trading Linda Burney ordered that the toy be removed from all store shelves and recommended that parents take it away from children.
Ms Burney said an investigation of the toy would consider whether the use of the chemical was deliberate. The NSW Office of Fair Trading had notified its counterparts around Australia of its decision.
Moose's marketing manager, Christie Nicholas, said the voluntary product recall followed a small number of incidents worldwide in which children had swallowed beads and needed medical attention.
"These incidents did not result in any long-term effects," she said. "When used as intended and clearly instructed, the product is safe. However, if misused and swallowed, it may have adverse results and cause the child to become ill."
Ms Nicholas said that when the product was returned to the market an ingredient would be added to the beads to produce a foul taste.
A spokeswoman for Victorian Consumer Affairs Minister Tony Robinson said the minister would ask Consumer Affairs Victoria to review the product and have it removed if necessary.
WA's Consumer Protection Commissioner Patrick Walter said he had become aware of the problem with Bindeez early yesterday and imposed an immediate ban.
WA consumer protection officers were sent to remove the toy from shelves.
The mother of 10-year-old Charlotte Lehane, one of the NSW children who fell ill, told ABC Radio she was "beside herself" when her daughter began vomiting and convulsing and passed out.
It was reported that a 19-month-old boy was taken to hospital in Toowoomba, Queensland, after ingesting one of the toy's "magic beads".
The boy's grandfather told ABC Radio that the child fell unconscious after swallowing some of the beads."
(via The Age)