Mattel apologized Thursday to customers affected by a recall of nearlyone million toys from its Fisher-Price division after the Chinese-made products were found to have paint with excessive amounts of lead.

"We apologize to everyone affected by this recall, especially those who bought the toys in question," Robert A. Eckert, Mattel Inc.'s chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

"Our goal is to correct this problem, improve our systems and maintain the trust of the families that have allowed us to be part of their lives by acting responsibly and quickly to address their concerns," he said.

The worldwide recall — including the popular Big Bird, Elmo, Dora and Diego characters — involves 83 types of plastic preschool toys made by a Chinese vendor and sold in Canada and the United States between May and August.

The recall affects967,000 toys.

On Thursday, Health Minister Tony Clement said Canada will follow through with an investigation into the recall, the Canadian Press reported.

Speaking at the federal Conservative caucus meeting in Charlottetown, Clement didn't give specifics about the investigation, saying only thatstandards have been breached and that he wants to make sure the health of Canadians hasn't been affected.

Earlier today, Mattel issued an apology to customers for the recall.

Fisher-Price toy recall
The following products were sold in Canadian stores:
  • 39054 Sesame Street shape sorter
  • B9617 Dora figures for doll house
  • B9620 Dora's talking house
  • G3825 Dora talking vamanos van
  • G3830 Let's go adventure playsets
  • H4187 Dora figures in tube
  • H6859 Dora talking house French
  • H9203 Sing'n giggle tool bench
  • J0338 Diego talking field journal
  • J0342 Diego animal adventure
  • J0346 Diego talking rescue 4x4
  • J1136 Talking vamanos van French
  • J9451 Talking rescue 4x4 French
  • K0730 Dora's shop'n go market
  • K2448 Dora's talking market French
  • K3414 Diego - talking gadget belt
  • K3571 Go Diego mobile resc.
  • K9287 Talking gadget belt French
  • L3265 Diego animal adventure
  • L5342 Mobile rescue unit French
The recall is the latest in a wave that has heightened global concern about the safety of Chinese-made products.

It is the largest for Fisher-Price and parent company Mattel Inc. since 1998, when Fisher-Price had to yank about 10 million Power Wheels from stores.

David Allmark, general manager of Fisher-Price, told the Associated Press on Wednesday that the problem was detected by an internal probe and reported to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which works with companies to issue recalls.

Fisher-Price and the commission issued statements saying parents should keep suspect toys away from children and contact the company.

Under current U.S. regulations, children's products found to have more than 0.06 per cent lead accessible to users are subject to a recall.

Allmark said the recall was "fast-tracked," which allowed the company to quarantine two-thirds of the toys before they made it to store shelves.

Long-standing relationship with Chinese vendor

Allmark said the recall was troubling because Fisher-Price has had a long-standing relationship with the Chinese vendor, which had applied decorative paint to the toys. Allmark said the company would use this recall as an opportunity to put even better systems in place to monitor vendors whose conduct does not meet Mattel's standards.

"We are still concluding the investigation, how it happened," he said. "But there will be a dramatic investigation on how this happened. We will learn from this."

Owners of recalled toys can exchange them for a voucher for another product of the same value.

For more information, call 1-800-916-4498.