Sun, Aug 19, 2007 - Page 11 News List

Dutch chain recalls beds from China

TOXIC Beter Bed Holding said it was destroying a shipment of 728 foam mattresses from China after tests showed they contained toxic insecticide

AP , THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS AND NEWARK, NEW JERSEY

A chain of Dutch bed stores said on Friday it was recalling more than 1,300 Chinese-made foam mattresses amid fears they were sprayed with toxic insecticide.

Beter Bed Holding announced the recall after tests on a shipping container holding more than 700 mattresses found they contained poison, possibly as a result of being sprayed to kill insects in wooden packaging.

"Given its contents, the container ... should not have been sprayed," the company said.

It said it was destroying the shipment of 728 mattresses and recalling 1,310 from earlier deliveries, which were sold by its BeddenReus chain. Shoppers were urged to return the items to the stores for a refund.

News of possibly toxic mattresses is another blow to the already tarnished product safety record of Chinese exporters following a string of scandals including tainted dog food and toothpaste and lead paint on toys.

Beijing attempted to repair some of the damage on Friday by releasing a policy paper that touted its past food safety record and a current campaign to crack down on poor -- and potentially dangerous -- food processing practices.

Ironically, the spraying may have been part of a Chinese move to ensure exports were not infected.

"You can do that with solid stuff, but not of course with food, textiles, stuff people sleep on," Beter Bed spokesman Richard Neve said. "If you put a chemical compound on a [foam] sleeping mattress, like a sponge it fills itself up."

The mattresses were found to be tainted when Dutch government inspectors checked the container at Rotterdam port, said Jan-Jaap Eikelboom, a spokesman at the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment.

"The first check showed they were poisonous, exactly what [the poison is] we still have to check," Eikelboom said.

Although the ministry has yet to deliver a verdict on what the toxic material is, Beter Bed said it believed it to be benzene, a carcinogen, and a chemical compound called ethylene dichloride.

Eikelboom said he did not know where in China the shipment of mattresses originated.

Separately, Toys "R" Us Inc on Friday said it was removing all vinyl baby bibs from its Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us stores as a precaution after two bibs made in China for one supplier showed lead levels that exceeded Toys "R" Us standards.

Toys "R" Us, which operates more than 1,500 stores, said the result came in testing this month of bibs supplied by Hamco Inc and marketed under the Koala Baby, Especially for Baby and Disney Baby labels.

Tests of Hamco bibs in May were within standards, Toys "R" Us said.

Vinyl bibs made by other companies have been temporarily removed to avoid any confusion among customers and allow further testing, the Wayne-based Toys "R" Us company said.

Toys "R" Us, the second-largest US toy seller after Wal-Mart Stores Inc, said customers can return any vinyl bib purchased from a Toys "R" Us or Babies "R" Us store for a full refund.

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