Businesses bringing children’s toys into the UK are being warned to check those goods meet strict safety standards so young lives are not put at serious risk – and importers don’t get hit with a bill for ensuring the products never reach the high street.
Kent County Council (KCC) Trading Standards issued the warning after its Imports Compliance Team stopped a consignment of dangerous handmade toys from Turkey, some aimed at children as young as 36 months, from getting to consumers.
Included in a lorry load of blankets, curtains, pillowcases and paper labels, 18 soft toys, including octopus and crocodile heads, and chairs in the shape of giraffes, had loose eyes and fabric for facial features that could easily be pulled off, swallowed and cause choking.
The absence of textile labelling also showed the items had not undergone safety checks and the packaging did not have the required suffocation warning.
More than 200 wooden craft boxes were also found in the shipment at Dover bound for London. Marketed at youngsters between 8 and 14 years, the boxes had nails sticking out of rough wood with sharp edges, all of which could easily cause cuts.
The Imports Compliance Team form part of Kent Trading Standards’ Consumer and Public Safety Team. From cosmetics and life jackets to toys and e-scooters, their primary role is to check consumer products being imported to UK via Kent, including through Dover, Eurotunnel and Sheerness, are safe.
Sometimes consumer goods not meeting UK safety standards can be re-worked, or re-labelled, to make them safe. But dangerous products must be destroyed – at the importer’s expense.
Kent Trading Standards Operations Manager Jim Whiddett said: “It is easy to forget that what may seem harmless to an adult, like buttons for eyes on a fluffy toy, poses a serious hazard to a young child. That’s why there are strict rules in place in the UK to ensure children’s toys are safe.
“Failing to meet those standards puts young lives in danger and businesses importing the goods have to cover the costs for safely destroying those items. It’s a lose-lose situation.
KCC Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services Mike Hill said: “Thanks to our Imports Compliance Team, a terrible tragedy may have been prevented.
“As we know from the Child Accident Prevention Trust, every day around 40 under-5s are rushed to hospital after choking on something, or swallowing something dangerous. Food is the most likely cause, but small objects and toys can also be risky for young children.”
Businesses unsure of the product safety rules for importing children’s toys into the UK can contact Kent Trading Standards on 03000 41 20 20, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Among safety charity RoSPA’s top-10 tips for buying children toys are:
- Buy toys only from reputable outlets. Look for the CE symbol or a UKCA mark, which shows products meet UK safety standards
- Also look for the voluntary British Toy and Hobby Association’s (BTHA) ‘Lion Mark’. A condition of BTHA trade association membership is that members’ toys will meet the statutory safety requirements, and
- Always check toys for loose hair and small parts, sharp edges and points as these could cause choking or cuts
Read more from Rospa at: www.rospa.com/home-safety/advice/product/toy-safety