The head of Mattel apologized today for his company's massive recalls of tainted and defective toys. He spoke at a hearing on Capitol Hill as lawmakers look for ways to protect vulnerable children. The CEOs of Mattel and Toys-R-Us are now vowing to step up safety testing for all of their toys in the wake of this summer's recalls. Mattel, Inc. Chairman and CEO Robert Eckert said, "Simply put, our systems were circumvented, and our standards were violated. We were let down, and we let you down." Toy industry officials were in the hot-seat as senators tried to get to the bottom of the safety scare, involving millions of dangerous toys imported from China. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar said, "These toys shouldn't be on our shores, and they shouldn't be in our stores." In recent weeks Mattel recalled more than 21 million Chinese-made toys -- mostly over concerns about lead paint. Wednesday Mattel vowed to test – and retest -- toys for harmful lead, before they ever leave China and other countries. And the company plans unannounced inspections at toy plants run by its vendors and subcontractors. Eckert said, "We will not rest until we know you're confident Mattel's toys are safe." But aside from China, are inspectors at the US Consumer Product Safety Commission doing enough to keep toys safe? Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin says, no -- because the agency had just one person in charge of toy safety. Sen. Durbin said, "This is the toy safety testing lab of the CPSC. What you see. It is totally inadequate." These Senate hearings come as toy makers and sellers scramble to regain public trust in time for the crucial holiday toy buying season. Eckert said, "My goal is to ensure this holiday season's toys are the safest ever." Just Tuesday China signed an agreement to prohibit the use of lead paint on toys exported to the US and Wednesday retailer Toys-R-Us announced plans to more quickly notify customers about toy recalls.
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