One of the hottest toys this year is Zhu Zhu pets — robotic hamsters. GoodGuide, a consumer group, has alleged that the toys are not only hot but toxic. While the manufacturer denies the allegation, the group insists that the toys have a dangerous level of antimony, which can cause cancer as well as lung and heart damage.
Antimony is used in electronics and flame-proofing as well as paints, rubber, ceramics, and enamels. It is also used in the semiconductor industry. The group says that it found 93 to 106 parts per million in the toys which is above the 60 parts per million set by the federal government.
The toy manufacturer, St. Louis, Missouri-based Cepia LLC, said its products meet the standard.
These type of allegations can result in litigation over “product disparagement” or related defamation claims. As with defamation, truth and opinion are defenses in product disaparagement which often involves food or agricultural products. Opinion would not apply here since the group is making a clear factual assertion. For example, Oprah was sued by the beef industry after making a statement on her show about not eating beef. (She won after a trial)
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