I just spoke to Rob from Melissa and Doug Toys regarding safety concerns. He assures me that Melissa and Doug is very concerned about safety. They manufacture toys in China, Vietnam, Thailand and the United States. They have had their safety testing system in place for twelve years. At each manufacturing facility, they have an on-site Melissa and Doug employee who inspects the safety of everything - not just paint. Every batch is tested both at the manufacturing site and when it arrives in the United States. They meet or exceed all U.S. safety standards. The testing is done by a third party testing facility. Rob tells me that Melissa and Doug manufactures over 800 products, so if you get one with a loose screw or chipping paint call their customer service at 1-800-284-3948 (the number is on the back of the package).
I do own some Melissa and Doug products. They are for many of us an easy to find alternative to plastic, and I do like the puzzles.
Linnea enjoys these big simple puzzles because she can almost do them by herself. I bought them for Arielle and they are hard to find now. I sometimes see them at T.J. Maxx.
Arielle still has fun with the Farm and Construction chunky puzzles ($9.99) because she can take the pieces out and play with them individually, although the puzzles are pretty easy for a three year old.
While I'm very happy with my Melissa and Doug Puzzles, my feelings about other Melissa and Doug toys have been mixed. The pizza, toaster and dish set are a lot of fun and get played with often, but the paint has not held up well, and the pizza tray leaves green streaks on the play table. Rob's response was that paint will show wear, but I can be assured it is non-toxic. Hmmm....
So, my thought is that Melissa and Doug toys are readily available, probably safe, affordable and not plastic. But, they are sometimes made in China and the quality varies. I will very likely buy more puzzles for my own children, and I'm really debating the Learn-To-Play Piano. Linnea really enjoyed playing with it at her cousin's house.
And I've heard really good things about the Wooden Chomp and Clack Alligator Push Toy.
My take home message is that the quality of Melissa and Doug toys varies from toy to toy. The company assures me that the toys are safe. However, there are other alternatives (such as Plan Toys) in the same price range. Melissa and Doug makes excellent puzzles, but I would not consider Melissa and Doug for toys that will be mouthed because of the chipping paint issue. You decide for yourself.