Sophie the Giraffe is making headlines again after photos of mold inside the popular teething toy went viral when they were published on the goodhousekeeping website. Pediatric dentist, Dana Chianese, had cut open the toy after detecting a musty odor only to find black mold inside. The company who manufactures Sophie the Giraffe, Vulli, has released statements saying that it is important that no water get inside the giraffe. (Water could enter via a small hole that creates a whistle sound when the giraffe is squeezed). Vulli has also said that saliva could not cause the type of mold formation that is being shown in the pictures. While there is no recall regarding the mold issue, a company spokesperson did say this:  “Please know that each complaint received is taken very seriously and that the return of the product is always asked for further examination.”

Doctors are recommending that “parents who want to be sure their kids’ toys do not develop mold purchase products that are completely sealed.”  We have contacted Vulli to find out more and if they plan to offer Sophie the Giraffe as a sealed toy in the future. The full statement from the Vulli spokeperson can be read here.

By SafBaby Co-Founder Sandra Blum – article about nitrosatable substances found in Sophie in 2011.

sophie-the-giraffe

Sophie was my son’s favorite chewing toy (see photo below) and it’s probably one of the most popular teething toys around the world.  Here is why Sophie the Giraffe made the headline news 2 years ago:

The November 2011 issue of reputable German consumer watchdog magazine Öko-Test (copy and paste into Google Translate for English translation) tested Sophie the Giraffe for nitrosatable substances and found 0.781 mg/kg. Although it is above the German limit of 0.1 mg/kg, it meets European Standards which has a limit of 1mg/kg.

What are Nitrosatables and Nitrosamines and Why are They Toxic?

Nitrosatables, a known carcinogen, can convert to Nitrosamine by sucking on a teething toy or soother. It can release small amounts of nitrosamines inside the stomach.

Sophie the Giraffe Recall or Not?

Vulli agreed to exchange but not recall all Sophie the Giraffe toys with the batch number 331101 in Germany! So there was and is no official recall! Read more on the official statement from Vulli below.

Official Statement from Vulli SAS France, Maker of Sophie the Giraffe

“Sophie la Girafe has always respected and complied with European and global standards.

Our company, Vulli trusts specialists who are experts in the field to guarantee that each product meets the highest safety standards. We believe it is our corporate and ethic responsibility to guarantee our products for our consumers and their children. There has never been a product recall for Sophie la Girafe / (Sophie the Giraffe) in any country including Germany. Vulli, as a voluntary measure and without any legal obligation, proposed an exchange to reassure its consumers because one batch concerned Germany’s regulation process.

The batch number 331101 was in question, so we immediately responded with action and offered an exchange to anyone who had concerns for not only this batch number. To reiterate, there was never a “recall” for our product.

We are proud to say that since the first Sophie la girafe was created in May 25th, 1961, all Sophie products have met global standards at the time of their manufacture date.

Today, all Sophie the Giraffe sold worldwide respect and comply with European, global law and German regulations. This is a maximum level requirement that Vulli offers to all its customers.

The specific law for the German market, which is even stricter than the future European regulations (effective on July 20th, 2013), was intended for children under three years old. These toys can be inserted in the mouths of children and used for teething. In a continuing effort to improve our products, we have changed the manufacturing process for Sophie la Girafe to meet the new German law as soon as we became aware of it.

Since July 2011, each Sophie la Girafe produced has a batch number on the back of one leg, which enables full traceability (production date and corresponding laboratories tests). Health authorities now have the ability to access this data as well. In a continuing effort to make safety and quality our first priority, Vulli offers complete transparency regarding the compliance of each Sophie la Girafe’s manufacturing process. We believe we are the only toy manufacturer in the world to perform batch traceability.

Today, all Sophie la Girafe sold worldwide respect and comply with European, global law and German regulations. This is a maximum level requirement that Vulli offers to all its customers. Regardless of the individual country regulations where it is sold, each product is consistent and meets the highest quality assurance standards.

Vulli has always put the quality of its products at the heart of its concerns. For over 50 years, our customers have trusted us and we do everything possible not to disappoint them.

We have always and will always continue to put the safety and quality of our consumers first.”  – Vulli SAS

Should You Worry if You Own an Older Sophie the Giraffe?

First of all, Sophie the Giraffe meets and has always met the US safety levels, as the US standards are less stringent than in the EU and Germany. So there was no exchange program offered in the US by the official distributor.

Today, all Sophie the Giraffes sold worldwide respect and comply with European, global law and German regulations.

I think that there are probably a lot of other teething toys out there that are a lot worse and I do think Sophie the Giraffe is one of the safer alternatives. My son didn’t like to chew on cloth teethers (my daughter did!) and Sophie was the only toy he liked to teethe on.

I am glad that Vulli took voluntary action to change the manufacturing process to meet the strict German standards worldwide (and not just EU or US standards). BUT, I wish they would have always applied these strict standards and not waited until they were exposed by Öko-Test magazine.

So, I would say, if you are expecting a new child and/or have a baby that’s starting to teethe and you want to be safe, don’t purchase or accept a second hand Sophie but spend the extra $20 and buy a new Sophie or put it on your baby shower list.

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