STARBUCKS Corp, the world's largest coffee-shop chain, said yesterday it won't stop sourcing products from China after recalling children's cups, some of which broke and caused choking.
"This is an isolated incident," Starbucks spokesman Brandon Borrman said from the company's Seattle headquarters yesterday. "In an issue like this we act very quickly. We frequently conduct design safety reviews and have an ongoing process of random testing."
Starbucks recalled 250,000 children's plastic cups from American and Canadian stores, a year after removing 73,000 Chinese-made coffee machines prone to overheating and melting.
At least 15 million items manufactured in China were recalled in the United States over the past two months, including tainted children's toys under brands, including Mattel Inc and Walt Disney Co, said Bloomberg News.
"Design flaws in products that foreign companies bring to Chinese manufacturers to produce account for a lot of the recall problems," said Bruce McLaughlin, chief executive of Sinogie Consulting, which helps foreign companies investigate the reliability of Chinese manufacturers. "Some Chinese manufacturers do cut corners and use inferior supplies, but reliability in general has been getting steadily better."
Animal faces on Starbucks' plastic cups broke in at least seven instances, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission said on Tuesday. Two children began to choke on the pieces, though no injuries have been reported, the CPSC said. The cups also posed a laceration hazard, it said.
The cups were sold at Starbucks stores from May 2006 through August 2007 for US$6. Consumers may receive refunds as well as a complimentary beverage from Starbucks for returning the cups.
Starbucks shares rose 11 cents to US$26.77 in composite trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market on Tuesday.
In October 2006, the company recalled 73,000 Chinese-made coffee makers because defective electrical wiring caused some to overheat and melt their plastic shells.
China's government last month said it has made progress in rooting out dangerous goods through better production oversight.
US Congress held hearings in September on lead in children's toys, which may cause brain damage if ingested, and the safety of Chinese imports.
In September, Mattel Inc apologized to China and said that design flaws, not problems with Chinese manufacturers, were to blame for most of the dangerous toys it recalled in August.