Last week, the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced that McDonald’s was voluntarily recalling approximately 12 million drinking glasses sold at its locations throughout the country. The glasses, part of a promotional campaign for the latest installment of the Shrek movie franchise, are painted with the images of characters from those films. The paint used in those images contained cadmium, a heavy metal that, in addition to being a carcinogen, is also known to cause kidney problems and bone softening.
Early last month, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled children’s jewelry sold at Claire’s stores around the country after the CPSC discovered that the jewerly contained high levels of cadmium. Since then, the Commission has issued recalls of more children’s jewelry containing cadmium. Some of the jewelry at issue in those recalls contained up to 91% of the metal. In one instance, Walmart pulled children’s jewelry from its shelves only after an Associated Press report revealed that the retailer had sold the jewelry for months after discovering that the jewelry contained toxic levels of the heavy metal:
In most cases, the recalled products were manufactured in China. The drinking glasses recalled by McDonald’s, however, were made in the United States. The problem is not limited to drinking glasses and jewelry either; cadmium was recently discovered in several popular protein drinks.
The recent uptick in cadmium recalls is likely the product of new tests performed by the CPSC, which recently began screening imported products for the element, as well as voluntary testing by the companies manufacturing or selling the products. Given the increased vigilance — and the growing public awareness of the issue — it won’t be surprising if the recalls continue.