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US, Aussie Officials Yank GHB-Producing Toys 343

theodp writes "Questioned about concerns over China-made toys, Toys 'R' Us CEO Jerry Storch predicted 'this will be the safest holiday season ever.' Oops. On the same day Storch's interview ran in Fortune, Toys 'R' Us joined other North American and Australian retailers to pull millions of Chinese-made toy bead sets from shelves after scientists found they contain a chemical that when ingested metabolizes into GHB, the date-rape drug gamma hydroxy butyrate. Two children in the US and three in Australia were hospitalized after swallowing the beads."
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US, Aussie Officials Yank GHB-Producing Toys

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  • So... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Arthur B. ( 806360 ) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @11:32AM (#21281503)
    Where can we buy the beads ?
    • Re:So... (Score:4, Funny)

      by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @11:50AM (#21281745)
      That's why there is a 99-cents store that sells Chinese toys right next to the downtown bars around here!
      • Re:So... (Score:4, Funny)

        by Znarl ( 23283 ) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @12:57PM (#21282679) Homepage Journal
        I love the product review on that website:

        "Pros: Ever since we received our aqua dots super studio our 5 year old hasn't stopped playing with it. He has created dozens of unique shapes and designs. Now he's decorating the house with Halloween creations that he made with his aqua dots.

        Cons: I keep having to purchase more beads."

    • by sm62704 ( 957197 )
      Beads? You don't need the beads. Just see Ginger. Ginger and the Mickey part 1 [] gives a first person account of a non-sexual use for these drugs, and the sequel, Am I too picky? [] chronicles the karma payback.

      Of course, since those diaries were written in 2003 Ginger's probably either dead or in prison by now.

      • Heh, you want real date-rape related trauma, go to a bar called Legends in the valley of NS. There are apparently 3 women who go there to pick people up to medicate and gang rape. Men, women, doesn't matter.

        Who knows, maybe you'll become a movie star. Only justification for it I can see.

        Creepy shit GHB.
        • Re:So... (Score:5, Funny)

          by sm62704 ( 957197 ) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @12:16PM (#21282101) Journal
          I'm pretty sure all she was after was money. But there is an even more insidious way these girls get your money.


          Police are warning all men who frequent clubs, parties and local pubs to be alert and stay cautious when offered a drink from any woman. Many females use a date rape drug on the market called ..."Beer". The drug is found in liquid form and available anywhere. It comes in bottles, cans, from taps and in large "kegs".

          "Beer" is used by female sexual predators at parties and bars to persuade their male victims to go home and have sex with them. A woman needs only to get a guy to consume a few units of "Beer" and then simply ask him home for no strings attached sex. Men are rendered helpless against this approach.

          After several "Beers", men will often succumb to the desires to perform sexual acts on horrific looking women whom they would never normally be attracted.

          After drinking "Beer", men often awaken with only hazy memories of exactly what happened to them the night before, often with just a vague feeling that "something bad" occurred.

          At other times these unfortunate men are swindled out of their life's savings, in a familiar scam known as a "relationship". In extreme cases, the female may even be shrewd enough to entrap the unsuspecting male into a longer term form of servitude and punishment referred to as "marriage". Men are much more susceptible to this scam after "Beer" is administered and sex is offered by the predatory females. Please! Forward this warning to every male you know.

          If you fall victim to this "beer" and the women administering it..... There are male support groups where you can discuss the details of your shocking encounter with similarly affected like-minded guys. For the support group nearest you, just look up "Golf Courses" in the phone book.

          • Re:So... (Score:5, Funny)

            by l8f57 ( 652468 ) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @01:27PM (#21283073)
            See Also this Warning:


            A "heads up" for those men who may be regular Home Depot customers.

            Over the last month I became a victim of a clever scam while out shopping. Simply going out to get supplies has turned out to be quite traumatic. Don't be naive enough to think it couldn't happen to you or your friends. Here's how the scam works:

            Two seriously good-looking 20-21 year-old girls come over to your car as you are packing your shopping into the trunk. They both start wiping your windshield with a rag and Windex, with their breasts almost falling out of their skimpy T-shirts. It is impossible not to look.

            When you thank them and offer them a tip, they say "No" and instead ask you for a ride to another Home Depot or Staples. You agree and they get in the back seat.

            On the way, they start undressing. Then one of them climbs over into the front seat and starts crawling all over you, while the other one steals your wallet.

            I had my wallet stolen October 4th, 9th, 10th, twice on the 15th, 17th, 20th, & 24th. Also November 1st, 3rd, three times just yesterday and very likely again this coming weekend.

            So tell your friends to be careful.
    • and, the effect stronger if you grind them up and inject them? Just curious
    • Re:So... (Score:5, Funny)

      by StarvingSE ( 875139 ) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @01:05PM (#21282781)
      Drugged up beads? Mardi Gras is going to be so awsome this year...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 08, 2007 @11:33AM (#21281523)
    The problem with date rape is that first you have to get a girl to go out on a date with you.

    sigh. sometimes it sucks to be a nerd.
    • No shit, so I will save the beads until I get to the date part. Unfortunately, like the condoms I bought, they probably have a shelf life and will be useless by the time, if ever, I get on this 'date' thing.
  • Too bad... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Otter ( 3800 ) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @11:34AM (#21281529) Journal
    I'd never heard of these things before yesterday, but it looks like a fantastic toy. Except for, y'know, the coma part. Hopefully they'll reformulate them/
  • by burtosis ( 1124179 ) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @11:35AM (#21281551)
    Just a bit of repackaging for the 'Adult' market and I wouldn't bat an eyebrow at seeing these in my spam filter.
  • by Spazntwich ( 208070 ) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @11:37AM (#21281573)
    Like LSD. It would have been great to see countless kids tripping out with those multicolored beads.

    "Wow, Tommy really likes those beads. And that tie-died shirt. Where did he get a Phish CD?!"
  • What next, will hypodermic needles come pre-loaded with AIDS-tainted blood? Are RoboSapiens going to rape our pets? MSG in our food? Hey, wait a sec...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by steveo777 ( 183629 )
      I'll take good old metal Transformer toys that pinch your fingers and rip the skin off. I miss the 80's.
      • I'll take good old metal Transformer toys that pinch your fingers and rip the skin off. I miss the 80's.

        While I'm not comicbook guy and don't obsess over the toys of my youth, I have to say that the Autobot Jetfire (based on the Valkyrie from Robotech/Macross) is one of the greatest toys ever made. Solid, durable, lots of metal parts, great transformation sequence, solid feel, etc. I also really liked the design and feel of the 80's-era GI Joes. Toys seemed to go to crap right about the time I was growing out of them. The stuff I see out there today, I don't think I would have been interested if I saw them a

        • I've got 3 kids at home that would disagree with you. Just sayin'
          • I've got 3 kids at home that would disagree with you. Just sayin'
            And in fifteen years they'll be posting on slashdot complaining about how the toys these days all suck, I know that's how it goes. :)
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by stoolpigeon ( 454276 ) *
              It is funny though - they see stuff on tv and tell me they want it. I explain that the commercials basically lie to get them to spend their money. Last year at Christmas time they bought some Floam and it was complete crap. And they learned. We saw an ad for aquadots a while back and my 4 year old says "I want that" and I asked his sisters - "What do you guys think?" and they said, "It's not like they show. They just want our money." Turns out to have come in extra handy this go round.
  • Forget the chemical they were coated with for a second. But how on earth does a toy for children, that has parts easily removed and very easily swallowed, get bought for children? (and notice how carefully I tried to word this, not trying to imply that the manufacturer approved the use of such toys for children (they may or may not have), but allowing for the possibility that the towy were marketed for a more adult demographic (8-12) and it was the parents' bad call to buy them for toddlers) Somebody is cra
    • by plopez ( 54068 ) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @11:52AM (#21281755) Journal
      Note one youngster was 10 that was hospitalized. Look at the ages of the people using them on the website, looks like an 8-12 range to me. Kids. No adults present.

      Also, how do you know they were bought for toddlers? They could have been bought for big sister who carelessly left them out (after all, kids sometimes do those sorts of things).

      Your arguments hold no water.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Otter ( 3800 )
      The beads look like candy, and aren't a choking hazard. I can easily see them getting bought for older kids, and a toddler scarfing down (or getting fed) a handful of them. It doesn't seem like something you'd buy for a toddler.
    • by TigerNut ( 718742 ) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @12:07PM (#21281937) Homepage Journal
      You don't have kids, do you? Kids put stuff in their mouths. Even when you tell them not to. And the second time... and the next. Because they're kids. And if you have multiple kids you sometimes end up with toys in the house that are intended for older kids, and the little ones still end up playing with them because kids get into stuff.

      That's not to say that parents aren't responsible for what's in the house and within reach of kids, but there's a basic expectation that children's toys such as beads and cars aren't going to be poisonous or otherwise chemically hazardous. Chemistry sets are a different matter... but even there you wouldn't expect radioactive compounds or highly toxic materials in a children's set.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nomadic ( 141991 )
        You don't have kids, do you? Kids put stuff in their mouths.

        This is slashdot, where most people are childless yet still feel privileged to weigh in on the issue, and where the predominant theory is that anytime any kid at any age does anything wrong, it's automatically a sign of horrible parenting.

        Of course the hilarious part is, whenever someone advocates doing something to prevent their kids from doing something wrong, they're immediately attacked as uptight, overprotective parents who are unwilling to le
    • by metlin ( 258108 )
      See, first, you need to raise cats (and maybe dogs).

      Once you've given up on those, you should consider having kids and raising those.

      If *that* works out, you'll probably have an idea about *why* they put things in their mouth.
    • by Belial6 ( 794905 ) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @01:11PM (#21282883)
      Let me chime in a parent that appears to have a very different attitude towards raising children, and who wouldn't think twice about giving their 3 year old a toy with a bunch of small beads. In fact my kid does have a tub of beads that he uses for a toy.

      It really is not hard for a small child to be safely allowed to play with small toys. It just requires the parent to pay attention to their child. Paying attention to your child is unfortunately a very unpopular activity amongst parents these days, so toy manufacturers must label their toys as if the child will be using them unsupervised, and has had a neglected childhood. At 3, I don't worry that my child will swallow toys because he has been taught that you don't put thing in your mouth that are not food. Of course the only way that he could learn this is by being exposed to small toys while being supervised.

      The current trend is to not expose kids to things until they are already experienced with those things. This leads to kids being retarded. People learn by experimenting, and depriving children of small objects will have a negative impact on their learning. In fact, I would have to ask, how bad a parent must be to have a 7 year old that cannot be trusted to play with beads without eating them.
  • by Stavr0 ( 35032 ) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @11:42AM (#21281635) Homepage Journal
    Never understood the correlation between beads and flashing breasts until now ...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cayenne8 ( 626475 )
      "Never understood the correlation between beads and flashing breasts until now ..."

      Look, there are some things in life, that you simply do not question!!

      Women exposing themselves for cheap plastic beads, are a good thing, and should be encouraged and enjoyed, but, NEVER, questioned!!

      Hehehe..that being said, Mardi Gras is early this year....c'mon down for a visit and a party to our city!!

  • by imuffin ( 196159 ) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @11:43AM (#21281637)
    I used to take it all the time and I never got raped once.
  • "look mom (Score:4, Funny)

    by circletimessquare ( 444983 ) <circletimessquare&gmail,com> on Thursday November 08, 2007 @11:48AM (#21281709) Homepage Journal
    i made a colorful portrait of river phoenix in colored beads"

    • by Barny ( 103770 )
      "I saw his body thrashing 'round
      I saw his pulse going down
      I saw him in convulsive throws
      I said, "I'll have one of those!"

      I'm on the drug... that killed River Phoenix."

      This is serious, mum :P
  • Chemical Replacement (Score:5, Informative)

    by Pearlswine ( 1121125 ) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @11:49AM (#21281723)
    From the Wiki [] "The toy was supposed to contain the non-toxic chemical 1,5-pentanediol, but instead contains 1,4-butanediol, which is metabolised into the drug gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB)." It looks like it's not a design mistake, but the manufacturer replacing one substance with a cheaper version
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MarkGriz ( 520778 )
      Corrected link []
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bluesangria ( 140909 )
      Mod up please. This is why the Chinese manufacturers are getting in trouble. They are substituting cheaper, UNSAFE alternatives into commonly produced goods and then sending them off. The sad part is, the number of injuries and deaths we see in the U.S. and other countries, is *nothing* compared to the the number injuries and death suffered by the Chinese consumer. Their quality assurance for manufacturing is just NOT THERE! []
      • National Security (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mcrbids ( 148650 )

        This is why the Chinese manufacturers are getting in trouble. They are substituting cheaper, UNSAFE alternatives into commonly produced goods and then sending them off. The sad part is, the number of injuries and deaths we see in the U.S. and other countries, is *nothing* compared to the the number injuries and death suffered by the Chinese consumer.

        I agree with everything you said. But what this also shows us is the effect that China has on our national security!

        With everything being manufactured in China, out of our hands and control, what's to stop the Chinese from deciding to "taint" products essential to our national security? What if the Chinese Govt simply ordered the cessation of manufacturing certain things that we really need?

        China has tied their currency to the dollar making their money artificially cheap. This has caused all our manufactur

    • by smellsofbikes ( 890263 ) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @01:48PM (#21283421) Journal
      In case anyone was wondering -- or just so I can use my chemistry degree for like the second time since graduation ten years ago -- 1,4-butanediol is an industrial chemical synthesized in *enormous* quantities because it's the precursor to a whole slew of useful materials, mostly rubber polymers. BUNA rubber gets the first half its name from butanediol. It was developed during WWII by both German and American/Canadian chemists because of a worldwide rubber shortage, since submarines kept sinking all the cargo ships. The stuff is derived from grain alcohol, easily and cheaply, and some bacteria can be coerced into producing it through large-scale fermentation.

      In contrast, 1,5-pentanediol is significantly more difficult to make and doesn't have anywhere nearly the demand or volume production, hence its higher expense and the temptation to substitute the cheaper, more readily available material that's almost just the same (except for the metabolites.)

      This is also why I don't trust herbal remedies that come out of China. That one carbon makes only a little difference in this case, but there are others where it'd be the difference between as effective as herbal remedies ever are and *dead*, and who are your surviving relatives going to pursue when it's a Chinese company that made the stuff?
  • It really makes me wonder what all I was exposed to as a kid, assuming we are just now catching all these things that were happening all along with imported toys and such.
  • Hmmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @11:58AM (#21281831)
    Crackdown on unsafe toys, crackdown on "do not call" violators. Federal agencies are suddenly interested in doing their jobs after nearly seven years of sucking up to the very people they're supposed to be regulating?

    Is some kind of election coming up next year, or something?

  • Disposal? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hellergood ( 968199 )
    How will they dispose of these beads? Throw them in the dump and let the chemical seep into the groundwater?

    I have this vision of an entire town of amnesiacs.
    • by PhxBlue ( 562201 )

      I have this vision of an entire town of amnesiacs.

      What were we talking about?

    • I have this vision of an entire town of amnesiacs.
      The amnesia comes after the insomnia :) (I assume you're making a reference to "100 años de soledad")
  • by illectro ( 697914 ) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @12:10PM (#21281991)
    I mean all the news stories refer to GHB as a date rape drug, which is just stupid journalistic sensationalism, GHB is far more commonly used as a 'rave drug', and there are more date rape accusations resulting from plain old alcohol induced leglessness. Not to mention that GHB is so salty and dangerous to mix with alcohol that you couldn't spike a drink with it. But the way the news continues to label it as a 'date rape' drug largely serves to perpetuate the idea and endanger people who end up taking too many hints from the news media. Even when people know what they're doing it's bad news waiting to happen, and giving it to other people is irresposible. Putting it into kids toys to save a bit of money in manufacturing is just pure evil.
  • Date Rape Drug? (Score:5, Informative)

    by bigbadunix ( 662724 ) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @12:14PM (#21282071) Homepage Journal
    GHB isn't *the* date rape drug. It's use, actually is primarily recreational (and, *no*, date rape is *not* recreation). Loss of conciousness is actually a rarity.

    I heard this on the news last night and thought "Oh, they're tainted with rohypnol". When I read this article this morning, I saw that it was GHB.

    Again, the media demonizing and misclassifying drugs. I'm not saying that GHB is good. Don't get me wrong at all. But the whole misclassification of things confuses parents, makes kids crave the stuff more, and generally, in it's lowest form, is misinformation.

    And we know how slashdot folks hate sensationalized misinformation, right?
  • This just in! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by davevr ( 29843 )
    "Child seriously ill after drinking Chinese-made drain cleaner!"

    Seriously, what kind of kid eats non-edible beads when they are 10 years old? This seems like a case of Darwinism at work... Are people just supposed to be able to be as dumb as they want, do anything, disregard all common sense, and still somehow make it through life? Geez...

    And yes, I have kids. My three year old is smart enough to not eat his older sister's toy beads. He is even smart enough to keep them away from a baby. I guess now t
    • It does qualify. Your baby doesn't know, yet, right?

      My daughter, at 16 months, is already learning about what is edible and not. At 14 months she was still putting inedible things in her mouth because she didn't know they were inedible.

      Your kid just knows better.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Bob-taro ( 996889 )

      Seriously, what kind of kid eats non-edible beads when they are 10 years old?

      Although the article uses the word "ingested", I wonder if putting a bead in your mouth would do the same thing. It's not the entire bead, but the "glue" coating that has the chemical. Still sounds like a silly thing to do, but kids are often silly. Maybe the beads taste good - didn't I just see a post where someone said GHB tastes salty?

    • Re:This just in! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dhalka226 ( 559740 ) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @04:15PM (#21285517)

      Seriously, what kind of kid eats non-edible beads when they are 10 years old?

      Many of them.

      I'm glad that your child is acting safely in this particular example--though I'm perfectly sure he's doing any number of unsafe things in other areas; he is three after all--but here's the fact: The risk-management and decision-making centers of the brain are not fully developed until into the 20s. If you need sources, here is one from 10 seconds of Googling: []. You can find any number of others if you keep looking.

      Obviously, some people will mature at faster rates than others, "not fully developed" does not necessarily mean they will do every dangerous thing known to man, and good parenting is strongly in play. Still, it's important to realize that a child doing stupid things is not necessarily a function of them being stupid.

      On an semi-related note, I find it abhorrent that an adult would be judging a 10-year-old child he knows nothing about other than he got sick because of a toxic bead. Part of me is tempted to wish some harm befalls your own child to see if you still think of it as Darwinian evolution at work, but then I realize: I'm not that sort of a bastard monster.

      These are children. I'm not one of those "somebody think of the children!" types, but you really are despicable. Personally I don't think it's the child who ate the bead who needs to grow up.

  • by BcNexus ( 826974 ) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @12:15PM (#21282095)
    No matter what the product, Chinese manufacturers will always cut every corner they can.
    Toothpaste: Substituting poisonous glycol (anti-freeze) for other sugary chemicals
    Cough syrup: Ditto
    Paint: Using lead
    Painted toys: lead
    Capacitors: Using stolen formulas and producing incomplete electrolytes taht cause the capacitors to fail, leak or explode.
    Toys: substituting cheaper butanediol (which turns into the date-rape drug GHB) for more expensive pentanediol
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Greyfox ( 87712 )
      What blows my mind about it is that they frequently end up killing themselves when they get caught, probably because they know the government will do that (or worse) if they hang around. I wouldn't think it'd be a huge leap to think "Gee, if I don't use the lead-tainted paint on this product I won't have to kill myself later on..."
  • GHB not useful (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Knara ( 9377 ) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @12:20PM (#21282157)

    If I wasn't at work I'd look up the citation, but apparently double-blind studies have pretty conclusively shown that ruffies aren't really useful as a "date rape" drug, seeing as they're not a magical knockout potion.

    Now, getting trashed out of your mind, that'll give yer frat boy an opening. Doesn't need a magical additive for that, though.

  • These beads are supposed to stick together, and so they have a water-activated glue on the surface. The toy concept is that kids build something in a supporting tray, spray it with water, and then can remove the whole design in one piece. There's no excuse for having anything even remotely toxic in a material intended for use like that.

    The previous popular toy with little stick-together spheres was Magnetix [], from Rose Art. That one was recalled after one death and 27 emergency surgeries for ingesting

  • Company officials said that their new product "Bufo Toad" should replace any revenue lost through the GHB scandal.
  • That's a pretty reasonable price for GHB.
  • by RonTheHurler ( 933160 ) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @02:06PM (#21283703)
    As someone who's actually had a product line manufactured in China, I can say this. In general, they consider product specifications as a guideline only. They'll do whatever they can to relax tolerances, substitute materials and shortcut processes to lower costs, without the engineering or product research background to support those decisions. They don't pass those lower costs on either.

    I gave up having anything made in China years ago. The quality control alone ended up costing more than any savings I got from Chinese labor. In some products, we had as high as a 20% defect rate, and 5% was normal. Now I use automated machines to make my goods, and I hire local employees to do the design and operations work. You know what? now I have a better product AND a better price than I used to get from China! []

  • Mass Hysteria (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jerry Rivers ( 881171 ) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @02:22PM (#21283977)
    Five sick children and how many of these have been sold world-wide? Millions? And people should know that the according to ABC News (Australia) the two children there "...swallowed large amounts of the beads...."

    Read that again. "Large amounts." []

    This is a case of mass hysteria. More children probably get hurt from falling off a bicycle or choking on their Fruit Loops.

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.