(CBS) – Target has stopped sellingover its website a day after a consumer group’s critical report made media headlines across the country. It was unclear whether the products had also been removed from store shelves.
The US Public Interest Research Group, which produces an annual report about dangerous toys, released data on two fidget spinners sold at Target stores — the Fidget Wild Premium Spinner Brass and the Fidget Wild Premium Spinner Metal — on Thursday, saying that both gadgets contained excessive lead levels.
Target, which had been provided with the US PIRG test results prior to the announcement, originally vowed to continue selling the spinners, saying that they met all US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) guidelines because they were classified as “general use products” rather than toys.
While children’s toys must comply with a raft of safety standards, including meeting federal guidelines on lead and phthalates content, there are no such standards related to products sold to adults. Despite the fact that fidget spinners are so popular with the grade-school set that many elementary schools have banned them as a classroom distraction, the CPSC’s interim leadership classifies most fidget spinners as “general use products” exempt from child toy safety standards. The agency has issued choking warnings about the products, however.
Following the US PIRG report yesterday, CPSC Commissioner Elliot Kaye, who was chairman of the government watchdog until earlier this year, said over Twitter: “Seems obvious fidget spinners are toys and should comply with all applicable federal safety standards.”
Interim CPSC Chairwoman Anne Marie Buerkle also warned that light-up spinners contain lithium coin batteries that can cause severe internal burns, if swallowed, and have been the source of fire warnings.
The CPSC did not return calls seeking comment.
Target, meanwhile, appears to have had a change of heart about selling the lead-laden spinners, regardless of their packaging. The retailer, which changed the web description of the product midday Thursday to emphasize that it is meant for consumers over the age of 14 (rather than for ages 6 and up, as originally advertised), took all mention of the spinners off its site by the end of Thursday.
A spokeswoman for US PIRG said the consumer group’s representatives still found the products on store shelves in Chicago and Denver stores late Thursday.
“We are pleased to see that Target does not appear to be selling these products online anymore, said Kara Cook-Schultz, toxics director at US PIRG. “We are hopeful that this is a signal that they will also take them off the shelves.”
A Target spokesman did not return a call seeking comment.
Notably, US PIRG continues to test spinners sold at other stores around the country. The consumer group’s annual “Trouble in Toyland” report is due out in two weeks. Cook-Schulz said it released the report on the lead content of these two spinners early because of public safety concerns. The brass spinner in question tested at more than 300 times acceptable lead levels for children’s products. The metal spinner tested at 13 times acceptable lead levels.