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FISHER-PRICE DISCLOSURE TIMING BEING SCRUTINIZED

The federal inquiry pertains to last week's toy recall.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is looking into whether Fisher-Price let the agency know as quickly as it should have about lead paint found in 1.5-million Chinese-made toys that were recalled worldwide last week.

Scott Wolfson, a spokesman for the commission, it was conducting "an active and open" investigation into the timing of Fisher-Price's disclosure. He declined to provide details, including when Fisher-Price notified authorities of the problem.

Fisher-Price, a division of Mattel Inc., has cultivated an image as role model for careful control of its manufacturing in China. However, the company's record in timely reporting of defects is checkered: Fisher-Price was fined $975,000 in March for not notifying authorities quickly enough about a choking hazard in a toy from its popular Little People product line. In 2001, it paid $1.1-million for a similar infraction regarding safety defects in its Power Wheels toy vehicles.

Federal law requires companies to alert the safety commission within 24 hours when they discover information about a dangerous defect in a product.

On Wednesday, Fisher-Price announced the recall of the painted toys, including the popular Big Bird, Elmo, Dora and Diego characters, because of excessive amounts of lead.

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