The giant American toy maker Mattel is recalling one and a half million Chinese-made toys, because of fears their paint contains too much lead. The toys, made for Mattel’s Fisher Price arm, include popular characters like Elmo, Big Bird and others. They were produced by a contracted manufacturer in China, who used a non-approved type of paint which included lead. One toy shop owner insisted standards are high in China, but said foreign companies come to China first and foremost to keep costs down. The American market dominates demand for Chinese toy exports. The rest of Asia comes second, followed by Europe. Total exports for last year were worth more than 13 billion euros. Western companies have invested heavily in China, fuelling its economic boom. They’re happy with lower production costs, but despite official claims, standards are often lower than in the West. Some of the world’s most popular toys come from here. China has tried to soothe consumer concerns, by promising tough quality controls, but they’ve also warned against “alarmist reporting.” Nevertheless, safety scares like this may damage the famous Made in China label.