Carcinogenic colors in zebra toy spark recall

The Start Your Senses Zebra that has been recalled.
The Start Your Senses Zebra that has been recalled.

A zebra toy of a different color has been recalled in Britain because of a potential cancer danger.

Some of the Bright Starts – Start Your Senses Zebra toys are being recalled by US company Kids II because “non-authorised colours” containing the potentially dangerous substance 4-Aminoazobenzine, also known as Aniline Yellow, were used in its manufacture.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified it as a Group 2 carcinogen – meaning it is “probably carcinogenic to humans”.

Aniline Yellow is used in pyrotechnics for yellow colored smokes, in yellow pigments and inks for inkjet printers. It is also used in insecticides, lacquers, varnishes, waxes, oil stains, and styrene resins.

Aniline Yellow was involved in the 1981 Spanish Toxic Oil Syndrome (TOS). A Madrid-based company imported denaturated rapeseed oil, dyed by aniline yellow to mark it as unsuitable for human consumption, to be used as a fuel in steel mills. However, the company distilled the oil to remove the dye, and sold it as a much more valuable olive oil for cooking.

The recall affects toys with a label beginning with "Q".
The recall affects toys with a label beginning with “Q”.

The result was a rash of pneumonia-type illnesses, with a second stage with lesions, weight loss, paralysis, and muscle wasting. The net result was over 20,000 sick and 400 dead. The chemistry of the poisonous reaction is still subject of a debate.

The recall only affects Start Your Senses Zebras that have a code beginning with “Q” on the label.

It is sold as an educational toy and includes a teether, mirror, rattle, crinkle paper and ribbons, and is designed to be attached to prams and cots.

Parents are urged to stop their children from using the toy.

A full refund is available by either returning the toy to the store where it was purchased, or cutting off the label showing the code and posting it to Kids II, together with your name, address and telephone number to:-

There have been no reports of injury.

Kids II UK LTD, 725 Capability Green, Luton Bedfordshire LU1 3LU, 01582 816080,


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