Will Americans Ever Be Able to Trust 'Made in China' Labels Again?

This is a rush transcript from "The Big Story With John Gibson," September 12, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

JOHN GIBSON, “BIG STORY” HOST: I'm John Gibson, thanks for watching “The Big Story.” Will there be toys to give your children this Christmas that won't make them sick? Mattel has recalled more than 21 million Chinese-made toys because of concerns about lead paint and tiny magnets that could be swallowed.

Now China is promising that toys made there will meet U.S. standards in time for the holiday season. But some U.S. senators are not sure that China's promise is enough. At a hearing today several senators made a promise of their own to create new legislation to ensure product safety.

With me now Nancy Nord, acting chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. She also testified at today's hearing. So Ms. Nord, China is promising our toys for your kids' Christmas will be safe. Is that a promise anybody can rely on?

NANCY NORD, CONSUMER PRODUCTS SAFETY COMMISSION: Well, if I have my way, yes indeed you can rely on it. This agency has just concluded some very, very important negotiations with the government of China. We had the second U.S.-China safety summit on Monday and Tuesday in Washington. We reached some really, really important agreements with the government of China. The trick now of course is making sure that they're implemented and that China does what they promise to do.

GIBSON: But let me cut through the stuff people in Washington talk about because what people at home care about is, “I have to go buy some toys for little kids at Christmas and I don't want them eating lead paint.”

And China is a vast place, the Chinese government can't even supervise it. In all of these different places like Chongqing and Canton and Hong Kong and Shanghai and Beijing, there are little factories painting little figures. How can you be sure they're not using lead paint if you're not testing everything that comes in?

NORD: Well, it's pretty impractical and frankly, John, rather naive to suggest that we're going to test every single toy that is imported into this country. However, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has a very strong program to test toys. We inspect things. And frankly, as long as I am chairman of this agency we will enforce that lead paint ban. Please understand, I'm a mom, I'm a consumer, and I'm going to make sure that the toys that children get for Christmas are safe.

GIBSON: Ok, the CEO of Mattel was at the hearing today, he promised that — he said they made mistakes and they are not going to make the mistakes again. I assume your office and other governmental agencies as well as Mattel thought that they were getting safe toys into this country. So, what's going to be different?

NORD: I think this emphasizes the real importance of going to the source and making sure that products are manufactured correctly in the first place. And that raises the issue of independent third party testing done in China by the companies that manufacture and export toys.

So, that is something that the toy industry has stepped up to do. Our agency is going to insist that they do it. The other thing that we have to remember is that every person, every company in the distribution chain here in the United States is responsible for the safety of the products they sell. Our agency is going to make sure that our laws are enforced and that people step up to their obligations.

GIBSON: All right. Christmas is coming and people want to know. Nancy Nord, acting chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Nancy, thanks very much.

NORD: Thank you so much John.

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