Consumer NZ has found a Carnival Colors-branded paint contained 15,200mg/kg of lead.
Lead is prohibited from use in face paints under the Cosmetic Products Group Standard. Young children are particularly at risk from exposure to lead, which can cause developmental and other problems.
"This face paint kit claimed it had 'passed authentication' to European toy safety standards but the high levels of lead detected meant it should never have been sold," says Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin.
The Carnival Colors kit, which was made in China, was bought at discount store Krazy$Dealz in Lower Hutt, Wellington. It contained blue, green, red, and yellow paints. The high levels of lead were detected in the yellow paint in the kit.
The product packaging failed to provide contact details for the New Zealand importer. Following inquiries, Consumer found the kit was imported by Translucky International, the trading name of Apollogrip Importers Ltd. Apollogrip is based in Auckland and is a wholesaler of $2 and variety items.
Apollogrip said the paint had been distributed to stores around the country and has now contacted its customers to tell them to remove it from sale.
Consumer also found the product for sale at Wellington toy retailer Smallfry. "We have advised the store of the test results and the owner undertook to remove it from the shelf," Ms Chetwin says.
Consumer advises anyone who has bought the Carnival Colors face paint not to use it. Consult your doctor if you're concerned your child has used the product.
Ms Chetwin says Consumer is currently testing other children's face paints for the presence of lead. Lead is not permitted in face paints or cosmetic products, other than at trace levels that are considered to be "technically unavoidable in good manufacturing practice". Its use in children's toys is also regulated. Toys with more than 90mg/kg of lead have been banned since 2007.
Test results for the paint have been given to the Ministry of Health, which provided funding for the testing.