McDonald’s Toy Probed After Connecticut Safety Complaint

July 28, 2010

Federal consumer safety officials are investigating a complaint that a Connecticut boy nearly strangled himself with a bracelet-like toy offered in a Happy Meal from McDonald’s, officials said Monday.

Four-year-old Michael Stephan put the toy, part of the “Katara” character from “The Last Airbender” movie, around his neck last month and appeared to lose consciousness for several seconds, his mother, Maze Stephan, told The Associated Press in an interview Monday. She said she removed the toy before any serious damage was done.

She filed complaints with the state Consumer Protection Department and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

“It was terrifying,” said Stephan, 40, of the eastern Connecticut town of Ledyard. “It was the most horrible thing to have happen to your kid. We don’t want any other parent going through this.”

She didn’t call 911 or take her son to a doctor because he appeared to be fine afterward, she said, but filed a complaint online that night.

McDonald’s issued a statement Monday saying that the toy was evaluated at an independent laboratory and determined to be safe for children and in compliance with federal requirements. The “Airbender” promotion ended July 22, the company said.

“McDonald’s toy safety record far exceeds the record for the toy industry overall,” the statement said.

McDonald’s recalled nearly 12 million “Shrek” drinking glasses two months ago because they were tainted with cadmium, a known carcinogen.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is looking into Stephan’s complaint, said Kim Dulic, an agency spokeswoman, declining to comment in detail.

The plastic bracelet-like item is open at one end and can be manipulated to fit on children’s necks, said Connecticut Consumer Protection Commissioner Jerry Farrell Jr. He’s asking the Safety Commission to determine quickly whether the toy should be recalled.

Stephan said her son put the toy on his neck at home after they visited the McDonald’s in Ledyard on June 30. He didn’t respond to questions, she said, and she turned and saw his eyes fluttering. He slumped backward, and she grabbed him and took the toy off his neck, she said.

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