On November 29th 2007, the Shenzhen based factory that manufactured millions of poisonous toy beads in mainland China issued a public apology , with the chairman saying that it had not occurred to anyone to check whether an inexpensive glue ingredient in the beads would be dangerous for children to eat.
The beads, known as "Aqua Dots" in the US and "Bindeez" in Europe and Asia, were recalled after at least 14 children became sick when they ate the beads; several of the children were briefly in comas. Medical researchers in Australia discovered that the glue ingredient breaks down in the body into GHB, the date rape drug banned in the United States and capable of causing unconsciousness that can lead to death.
Liao Chu-yuan said that his company had worried about the possibility that children might choke by swallowing the beads, but had not considered the possibility that the chemicals in the beads might be poisonous. The factory spent a year independently developing its own chemical formula to produce beads but did not share its chemical formula with Moose.
They had chosen a glue ingredient for the beads that cost half as much as the glue ingredient that the beads’ main distributor, Moose Enterprise of Australia, thought they were using. But he said repeatedly that the inexpensive hazardous ingredient had not been used for cost reasons. The ingredient also softens the plastic beads.
One problem was that initial beads manufactured tended to swell when sprinkled with water, posing a choking hazard. The other problem was that mixing plastic with the more expensive ingredient took six hours in a rotating drum and produced a sticky, oily material that was hard to manufacture into beads. The less expensive glue ingredient took just two hours in the drum and produced a more malleable mixture, Mr. Liao said.
SOURCE : The New York Times