Sophie the Giraffe is Full of Toxic Nitrosamines? Not so Fast…

We've been asked by many concerned parents recently about an article published in a French newspaper reporting that Sophie the Giraffe was contaminated with carcinogenic nitrosamines.  We contacted Calisson Inc., the U.S. distributor, directly to learn more.  We asked for testing documentation and an explanation of the toxicity claims – both of which they offered immediately.  We reviewed the documents, researched the EU and US nitrosamine regulations, and consulted with two of our trusted resources for their opinion.

We learned that both the European Union (EU) and the the US Food and Drug Administration allow a maximum level of nitrosamines at 10 ppb (μg/kg) in children’s products in the EU, and in nipples and pacifiers in the US.  The third party testing Vulli provided clearly indicates that nitrosamine levels were far below these limits.

We asked Helene Montgomery, founder of Calisson Inc., to share her thoughts on this situation:

Sophie the giraffe was first introduced in 2001 after the birth of my daughter Matilde. Born and raised in France I grew up with Sophie and wanted Sophie for my daughter.  I approached Vulli to sell Sophie in the US with the idea in mind as a mother sharing a wonderful toy that has passed the test of time. Since then the popularity of Sophie has grown and her manufacturing process remains the same. If Sophie were toxic for fifty years, we certainly would have heard about this prior to now. The fact is, Sophie is 100% safe and pure now, just like she was fifty years ago.

I have now worked with Vulli for over  10 years and I can assure you that they put the safety of our children before anything else. They spend over 350,000 euros each year on testing to assure that Sophie is 100% safe and pure and adheres to the strict policies of the CPSC as well as all countries policies. Sophie not only has passed all of the tests but she has passed them with flying colors.

Furthermore, it is insulting that they would insinuate and imply that we here at Calisson, Inc., only care about the bottom-line. We obviously, addressed these concerns immediately upon hearing about them.

So after all of the hubbub and upset, we're happy to report that there's no story here.

11 Responses to Sophie the Giraffe is Full of Toxic Nitrosamines? Not so Fast…

  1. Diba Tillery December 9, 2011 at 7:43 pm #

    Yay! Thanks for the detective work Alicia!

  2. Julie Petrillo December 9, 2011 at 8:13 pm #

    I’m so relieved!  My daughter chews on Sophie all day long. 🙂

  3. Sustainababy December 9, 2011 at 8:36 pm #

    Great to see someone actually asking questions and looking at it from the scientific angle and not the emotive hype angle. Sophie’s great reputation can be secured.

  4. Emily83 December 9, 2011 at 9:12 pm #

    I don’t think that either Vulli or Calisson Inc would have any reason to be truthfull.  Recalls on sophie WOULD hurt their bottom line!  why would they ever want to incriminate themselves?!  I think the truth will come out with time.  But for now I for one am not taking chances with my son’s health, I’ve thrown out both our sophies and have switched to natural organic wood and cloth instead.  I don’t overestimate for a minute that corporate execs and business people would ever pu our children’s health benefits before their bottom line.  Business is ruthless and I think anyone who has ever worked in a corporate environment will atest to this.

    • Alicia December 9, 2011 at 9:46 pm #

      Hi Emily,

      Believe me, I understand your wariness – especially with all of the unsubstantiated
      “natural,” “organic,” and “safe” claims being made in the marketplace
      today.  But did you get to take a look at the nitrosamine levels in the third-party tests?  They were less than 1 part per million.  Minute, trace amounts – even non-detectable in some instances.  Vulli didn’t have these these tests done in their own lab, so I don’t see that they’re hiding anything. 

      My motivation in investigating this situation is to try to keep a balanced perspective without instilling widespread panic.  I’m sure we can all agree that we need safer products made by trustworthy manufacturers who are willing to be transparent with their materials and third party testing.  We need to support the companies who are invested in doing the right thing, and in my opinion, that’s exactly what needs to happen in this case.


  5. TheFeministBreeder December 9, 2011 at 9:19 pm #

    Thank you Alicia! I would have been SOOO SAD if that were the case! Jolene loves her Sophie.

  6. FaVeCalGirl December 10, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

    As Sophie the Giraffe’s Handler and personally working for Calisson, Inc the “false allegations” and claims made by someone who is supposed to have a French Literature PhD was insulting. Basic French teaches you the difference between is? and should, could, and would. I’m glad that we were able to clear up any confusion. 

  7. Martin June 14, 2012 at 9:59 pm #

    In March 2012 the manufacturer issued a recall of the giraffe and similar products and is offering an exchange program. I’ve found the best information about Sophie at Wikipedia under “Sophie the Giraffe” and at bebepure dot com in a story titled “Is Sophie the Giraffe Toxic?”.

    • Martin June 14, 2012 at 10:50 pm #

      The recall was in Germany. Here are some more details.
      In March 2012 the manufacturer Vulli recalled Sophie the Giraffe and similar products made before March 2012 from retailers in Germany and is offering an exchange program to German consumers because the nitrosamine levels of 1.77 mg/kg that were found during testing by a government test lab in Stuttgart Germany were eighteen times higher than the German legal limit of 0.1 mg/kg.

  8. Olivia Lane January 3, 2013 at 12:58 pm #

    Thank goodness! I love Sophie! I had one as a little girl and think she is the perfect baby gift!

    • Laura January 7, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

      We agree, Olivia! ~The Soft Landing Sisters

Leave a comment

Designed by Alicia Voorhies