American toy retailing giant Toys "R" Us has announced that it is withdrawing from its 1,484 stores worldwide all teethers and other "direct-to-mouth" PVC products that contain phthalate softeners. A "recall" of all items affected by the decision was due to be completed yesterday. The firm has stores in most EU countries. In a statement issued in the USA at the weekend, Toys "R" Us said it felt "compelled to take a leadership role" in order to address customer anxiety following "conflicting reports" about the safety of phthalates and decisions by some manufacturers, including the world's largest - Mattel - to stop using phthalates (ENDS Daily 25 September). "There has been no definitive scientific evidence that supports removal of these products," the firm points out. Studies into the safety of phthalates, which are suspected on the basis of animal tests to cause cancer and other abnormalities, are still underway in the USA and in Europe. Environmental group Greenpeace welcomed the latest announcement but criticised the company for not also withdrawing other phthalate-containing PVC toys which may inadvertently be sucked by small children.
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