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McDonald’s recall prompts House investigation of cadmium

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(Read caption) A Shrek glass is displayed in Palo Alto, Calif. on June 4. The McDonald's recall has prompted a congressional committee investigation of cadmium in children's products.

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The McDonald's recall of some 12 million promotional Shrek drinking glasses has prompted a congressional investigation of the prevalence of cadmium, a toxic metal, in children’s products.

As part of the larger inquiry, Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, sent the fast food giant a letter on Wednesday. The California Democrat asked company officials to reveal what measures McDonald’s takes to ensure its products don't contain hazardous materials. The letter requested that all documents pertaining to the recall be submitted to the committee.

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Representative Waxman also sent a letter to ARC International North America Inc., of Millville, N.J., which produced the recalled glasses.

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The glasses, which came in four versions decorated with likenesses of characters from the upcoming movie “Shrek Forever After,” were voluntarily recalled after cadmium was detected on the exterior enamel.

Before they were distributed, the glasses were found to meet state and federal safety requirements, said McDonald’s and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The company announced the recall in an “abundance of caution,” according to a statement, and the CPSC reiterated that the glasses were not toxic.

The detection was made as the CPSC prepares to set new safety standards on cadmium in all children’s products – currently, the agency only regulates levels of the toxic metal in children’s toys. The agency recalled a series of children's jewelry earlier this year for high levels of the substance. The CPSC suggested that McDonald’s voluntarily recall the Shrek glasses because the items would not meet the new standards, which have not yet been released, the New York Times reported.

McDonald’s has gone to extra lengths to appease customers upset about the recall and to make sure all the glasses are returned. The company is offering a $3 refund on the glasses, which cost consumers $2 with the purchase of a meal. McDonald's is losing a reported $15 million on the recall.