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Consumers' wish for Santa: Safer toys for Europe's kids

06 December 2011
by BEUC -- last modified 06 December 2011

Just as every year, Christmas approaches and family and friends rush to the shops to buy toys for the children. Often spoiling the festive mood is the doubt in the minds of many consumers as to the safety of the toys they buy. ANEC and BEUC warn that the entry into force of the revised Toy Safety Directive earlier this year should not camouflage worrying flaws in the safety of toys sold in Europe.


Inadequate market surveillance

Recent tests by consumer organisations reveal serious shortcomings in toy safety: from the exposure of children to risks such as choking on small parts, to strangulation by cords on toys and to health problems arising from the use of hazardous chemicals.

Stephen Russell, Secretary-General of ANEC said: "The present level of resources committed by Member States to customs inspections and market surveillance is not enough to ensure that unsafe products do not reach the shops. At Christmas, we have particular concern at the safety of toys. We repeat our call for further resources to be made available at national level and the creation of a European framework as demanded by the European Parliament."

Danger: Toxic toys

Consumer groups welcome improvements since July's revision of the Toy Safety Directive such as better visibility of warnings on toys, but deplore that the requirements for chemicals apply only from 2013.

Monique Goyens, BEUC Director-General said:

"It is unacceptable that the toys our children put in their mouths or sleep with in bed can still contain high doses of dangerous chemicals. To add insult to injury, the limits set in the legislation are not ambitious enough. What we need are specific limits on chemicals that can harm children's health, alter their hormonal system or damage their future fertility."

Ten toy safety tips

Though a consumer should not buy a toy without the CE marking, it does not tell the full story. The CE marking is a self-declaration by manufacturers that they have respected their safety obligation, not a safety mark confirming that the product has been independently tested. Some tips for shoppers to buy safely include: Never buy toys with small detachable parts for children under 3; always follow a toy's age recommendation; only buy toys from trustworthy shops and outlets.

BEUC, the European Consumers' Organisation has a membership of 42 well respected, independent national consumer organisations from 31 European countries (EU, EEA and applicant countries). BEUC acts as the umbrella group in Brussels for these organisations and our main task is to represent our members and defend the interests of all Europe's consumers.

European Consumers’ Organisation (BEUC)