Fast food chain McDonald’s stopped giving away a Happy Meal toy activity tracker after an Arkansas mother said her four-year-old son was burned by one. On 23 August 2016, a recall for all 29 million Step-it toys was issued.
Casey Collyar posted a picture of her son Cason’s wrist bearing a red mark, and said he had been wearing the “Step-it” activity tracking toy for just a few minutes. On 13 August 2016, Collyar posted the pictures with a cautionary note to her Facebook page:
If your kids have this happy meal toy do not let them play with it. Cason has a burn after playing with the toy for about 8 minutes. The toy has a red light in it that is powered by the battery on the back that possibly is the cause of the burn.
According to the recall notice, McDonald’s has received 70 complaints of skin irritations or burns on children who wore the device, which instructs customers to immediately return the toys to any McDonald’s in exchange for another toy, a yogurt tube or a bag of apple slices.
The Step-it toy is a pedometer worn like a wristwatch. According to Endgadget, the toys were being given out in every Happy Meal sold in the U.S. and Canada. A toy review shows they have “Power” buttons and either digital displays or lights surrounding the face.
Collyar says the toy’s battery is encased by plastic, but she noticed heat radiating from it when she held it in her hand. She told us:
I reported it on Saturday and by Monday I had a safety lab that works with McDonald’s contact me, but as of 7:30 yesterday [16 August 2016] McDonald’s hasn’t decided what they’re going to do.
You would think they would immediately stop handing them out, but that hasn’t been the case.
Collyar said she has not taken her child to the doctor, because the mark seems to be going away on its own. She added that she was not seeking a lawsuit, but wanted the corporate chain to remove the toys from the Happy Meals. McDonald’s spokesperson Terri Hickey subsequently sent us the following statement:
We are voluntarily removing the Step It! Activity Band Happy Meal toys in our restaurants in our United States and Canadian markets. It will no longer be offered as part of our Happy Meals. We have taken this swift and voluntary step after receiving limited reports of potential skin irritations that may be associated from wearing the band.
Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our customers and we are fully investigating this issue. Our restaurants are now offering our youngest guests an alternative Happy Meal toy
Complaints of skin irritation have been leveled at activity trackers before. Fitbit was hit with a class action lawsuit in 2014 over rashes caused by one of its devices; the company subsequently recalled the product. Fitbit began issuing warnings against prolonged use when customers continued to complain of rashes from wearing the product.