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Office of Competition and Consumer Protection

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Before Children's Day: are toys safe?

< previous | next > 25.05.2018

Before Children's Day: are toys safe?
  • Small elements in rattles, too many phthalates in dolls, plush toys with burst seams – such are the irregularities detected by the Trade Inspection Authority.
  • The Authority also had numerous formal reservations, e.g. concerning the lack of details of the manufacturer or importer, the required warnings or instructions.
  • As a result, in 2017 the auditors impugned nearly every fourth inspected toy, and in the first quarter of 2018 nearly every third inspected toy.

The Trade Inspection Authority, acting upon request of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection, ensures that toys are safe. In 2017, it inspected 3,157 toys, including plush toys, dolls, puzzles, vehicles, balls, musical instruments, books. The audit was performed at 424 undertakings across Poland running small and large shops and wholesale facilities.

The auditors impugned 763 toys (24.2 per cent) – for safety-related and formal reasons. This is a slightly better result than in 2016, when the percentage of irregularities amounted to 26.8.

710 toys were tested at UOKiK laboratories. In the case of 207 of the samples (29.2 per cent), the auditors found structural defects or had reservations about the design or about chemical properties of the materials used.

The most common irregularities:

  • Toys for babies, e.g. small elements of rattles would fall off. Children could choke on them.
  • Plush toys and other soft toys had burst seams. It was possible for children to remove the stuffing and choke on it.
  • Swings featured cords which were too thin or inadequately attached seats (the knots sustaining them could untie easily). This posed a risk of falling. The auditors also concluded that there was a risk of the child’s head becoming stuck between the securing elements.
  • Doll prams or pushchairs did not feature mechanisms which prevented accidental folding. This could lead to cuts or crushing of the child’s fingers.

Moreover, in the case of 54 toys (26.6 per cent of the toys examined in this respect) the permissible level of phthalates was exceeded. These substances are used to soften plastic materials, but can lead to fertility problems in the future. The limits were exceeded in the case of: 45 soft dolls, 5 horse or pony figures, 2 skipping ropes and 2 balls.

The good news is that no bisphenol A (used in production of plastics, leads to fertility problems) or formaldehyde (carcinogenic substance used in production of dyes and chemical fibres) was detected in any of the toys audited in 2017. The permissible content of carcinogenic azodyes (used to dye fibres, among other things) was exceeded in the case of one doll only.

The inspectors had numerous formal reservations. The most common ones were:

  • lack of details of the manufacturer (220 toys) or the importer (73),
  • incorrectly issued declaration of conformity (212) or lack thereof (64),
  • lack of warnings (113),
  • lack of instructions (76).

In the case of 91 products – such as rattles, toys aiding the process of learning to walk, sand moulds – the manufacturers placed a warning stating that the products were not suitable for children up to 3 years of age without justification. In the opinion of the auditors, in this way the undertakings wanted to circumvent the obligation to examine toys for younger children more strictly. By assumption, products such as rattles are intended for small children, which is why they must be safe for them.

The Trade Inspection Authority requested the undertakings to voluntarily remove the formal irregularities. The request was fulfilled in 287 cases. In 2017, the President of the UOKiK instigated 153 administrative proceedings concerning toys. The activity of the Trade Inspection and the UOKiK in 2017 resulted in withdrawal of more than 67.3 thousand dangerous toys from shops and destruction of more than 83.6 thousand defective ones.

Toy inspections in the first quarter of 2018

The results of the first toy inspections in 2018 have been published. The Trade Inspection Authority carried them out in the first quarter of 2018 in 8 provinces. It analysed 222 toys sold by 92 undertakings: shops and wholesale companies. More than 80 per cent of the inspected products had been imported to Poland from outside the EU. The results are alarming – the inspectors impugned as many as 30.7 per cent of the imported toys.

Nearly half of the toys – 106 samples – were sent to specialist laboratories. It emerged that 28 of them (26.4 per cent) had structural defects or contained harmful chemical substances. The most common irregularities concerned small elements in toys for small children, bursting seams in plush toys and too long cords in pull toys. The permissible level of phthalates was exceeded in 1 doll out of the 19 products examined in this respect.

When purchasing toys, please you should check if:

  • They are suitable for the child’s age group. Buy toys which are suitable for the child’s stage of development. Manufacturers frequently indicate the recommended age on the packaging.
  • The toys do not contain small parts. The youngest children could choke on them.
  • The cords or strings are not too long. Toys for children under three years or age can only contain strings which are maximum 22 cm long. In the case of swings, the cords should not be too thin and the knots should not untie too easily.
  • They are safe. Check if they contain no sharp edges or protruding elements. Folding chairs and doll prams or pushchairs should feature a safety lock to prevent accidental folding.
  • The manufacturer has attached instructions. They should be included with items such as bicycles, scooters or swings. If the product must be assembled by the user, instructions in the Polish language should be included.
  • The toys feature warnings. If they do, you should observe them. Examples of such warnings: “Risk of falling. Do not leave children under 36 months of age seated or rocking without supervision” (rocking horse), “Use with personal protective equipment. Not for use in road traffic. Max. 20 kg” (inline skates for children) or “For use under adult supervision only” (functional toys, e.g. sewing machine).
  • The toys feature the CE marking. This is the manufacturer’s declaration that the product conforms with the safety requirements.
  • The toys are not included in the European Rapid Alert System.

The audit report is available only in Polish.

Additional information for the media:

UOKiK Press Office
Pl. Powstańców Warszawy 1, 00-950 Warszawa, Poland
Phone: +48 695 902 088
Email: [SCODE]Yml1cm9wcmFzb3dlQHVva2lrLmdvdi5wbA==[ECODE]
Twitter: @UOKiKgovPL

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