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Aqua Dots toy recalled nearly 3 weeks ago advertised in Target circular

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- The popular but dangerous toy Aqua Dots was recalled but the fliers advertising it apparently were not. In its Black Friday circular, Minneapolis-based retailer Target boasted a $13 price tag for Aqua Dots, the popular toy beads yanked from U.S. store shelves nearly three weeks ago because they are coated in a chemical that can turn into the "date-rape" drug when swallowed.

A Toys "R' Us flier distributed in some Sunday newspapers contains an ad for Aqua Dots, advertising the Aqua Dots Super Studio for $19.99 -- a $5 savings.

Target spokeswoman Brie Heath said Sunday that the Black Friday circular "was so far into production that we couldn't impact it when we heard about the recall." She said the circular was distributed to customers in the 47 states where Target has stores.

Target took steps to notify its customers, Heath said, by running an advertisement in the front section of newspapers in most major markets stating that due to the recall, Aqua Dots were no longer available.

Heath said Target posted signs in its stores and removed Aqua Dots from the circular's online companion.

"We had a couple of guest inquiries, but I think most understood the product has been recalled," Heath said. "I don't think it caused any huge concern."

Wayne, N.J.-based Toys "R' Us Inc., had a similar situation.

"These circulars were printed and in distribution before the recall," spokeswoman Kathleen Waugh said Sunday. "Absolutely, Aqua Dots are not available or for sale."

Though anticipated to be among the holiday's biggest-selling toys, Aqua Dots were recalled in the United States on Nov. 7 after tests showed they are coated with an industrial chemical that, when ingested, metabolizes into the "date-rape" drug gamma hydroxy butyrate.

The bead-like toy could cause breathing problems, loss of consciousness, seizures, drowsiness, coma and death if ingested. Nine children in the United States and three children in Australia have become sick.

Aqua Dots was heavily advertised in holiday fliers because of the toy's popularity, said Waugh. The Toys "R' Us circular distributed Sunday advertised the beads with a photo on page 2 under the heading "Girls Gift Sale."

Waugh said ads for the dangerous toy could continue to show up in newspapers for another week or two because the circulars are printed and distributed far in advance.