Toy industry told to boost safety effortsMinister also urges parents to use trusted sources

30 October 2007

Children playing with toys

Toy libraries let you try before you buy

The toy industry must ‘redouble its efforts on safety’ following a spate of high profile recalls.

The call by Consumer Minister Gareth Thomas comes just days after Mattel recalled 55,000 toys from the US, Canada, the UK and Ireland because of concerns over lead in paint.

And he said consumers can play their part by getting toys from reputable outlets and not ‘here today gone tomorrow rogue traders’.

Mattel said the latest problems with the Fisher-Price Go Diego Go Animal Rescue Boats - 12,000 of which were sold in the UK and Ireland - were caused by a sub-contractor in China.

The recall applies only to Go Diego Go Animal Rescue Boats sold after June this year.

Massive recall

That incident followed Mattel’s massive recall of about 18.2 million toys worldwide in August due to safety fears about the Chinese-made products.

In the lead-up to a summit with retailers, trade bodies and enforcement agencies, Gareth Thomas said: ‘The number of unsafe toys recalled this year will be a big worry for parents as they start their Christmas shopping - so its good news that toy makers are pledging to raise their game to ensure they comply with our tough safety laws.

‘The vast majority of toys are fine - but it is the few that aren't which could undermine parents' confidence. And even though most faulty toys are recalled before they ever get into a child's hands - that could still mess up a family's Christmas if it leads to shortages in popular items.’

The minister also advised shoppers to check toys for sharp edges and to make sure parts like teddies' eyes can't be pulled off and swallowed by a young child.

Age warnings

The minister added that parents should buy the right toy for the right age as specific warnings about toys being unsuitable for children under three years are important and most be observed.

David Hawtin, Director General of the British Toy and Hobby Association, said: ‘The safety of children has always been a top priority for the toy industry. We believe that the European structure for toy safety regulation is good but, with the enlargement of the EU, procedures need to be beefed up.

‘I am pleased that the summit has been called, particularly if it helps to put the recent toy recalls into proper perspective and helps restore public confidence in the safety of childrens’ toys in the UK.’

Results of the discussions will be fed back to the European Commission, which is currently conducting a review of EU toy safety legislation.