This falls into the category of “they really should have known better.” McDonald’s is recalling some 12 million drinking glasses sold to promote the movie Shrek Forever After because cadmium has been found in the painted design of the movie characters on the outside of the glass. Who tests these things, and why, again, would McDonald’s not bother to do it themselves, say, before selling 12 million of them? More importantly, if this has been your kids’ go-to obsession drinking glass for the few weeks they’ve been out there, should you worry? McDonald’s (not surprisingly), says not, and the Consumer Products Safety Commission rather tentatively agrees.
Cadmium is a carcinogen, and long-term exposure to it has been linked with bone softening and carcinogen. You’ve heard of it before, of course–it’s the reason all that kids’ jewelry was recalled in January. The CPSC says there’s far less cadmium in the glasses than in the jewelry. “McDonald’s is asking comsumers to immediately stop using the glasses out of an abundance of caution.” Certainly the amount of cadmium (used to create reds and yellows in paint and metal) colored onto the surface of the glass can’t be that much, and at least it’s on the outside of the glass. Until the jewelry incident, warnings about cadmium centered on industrial workers who worked with the substance; it’s most dangerous if breathed, less so if swallowed (according to a helpful pamphlet on the topic from the state of New Jersey). No injuries from the jewelry, or, as yet, the glasses, have been reported.
So, who nailed McDonald’s on this one? Not the CPSC, and certainly not McDonald’s dubious quality control people themselves. The D.C. office of California Congresswoman Jackie Speier says it received an anonymous tip that an X-ray gun revealed the metal in the paint, and the office passed the information along to the CPSC. That’s it, apparently: product safety evaluations of items marketed to kids are carefully considered for their safety by…anonymous people with X-ray guns. With a system like that, how can we go wrong?
McDonald’s, as of this writing, hasn’t yet dealt–a visit to their website revealed no mention of the issue, and the site they gave the CPSC to include on its recall notice for consumers seeking more information doesn’t yet exist. (It’s www.mcdonalds.com/glasses.) We can, no doubt, expect a response from their PR and legal teams sometime today.