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Toy Safety

Toy Safety – An Overview

Updated January 2011

Public anger, expressed in part by the widespread rebuke of elected officials, rising economic pressure on the middle and moderate income family, and the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 have all  helped to bring about change… slow change…but change never the less in the toy industry, both in the United States and in other lands.  Since the screaming and scary headlines of 2007 and 2008, there have been regulatory and legislative steps taken to assure the safety of toys.

Legislation adopted by the US Congress -- while burdensome to some businesses -- set the tone for child toy safety in this country.   Also, actions by the government of China, along with those in other Asian nations (the region being the source of the majority of toys sold in America), cracked down on many of the abuses that have led to dangerous and toxic toys being shipped to the USA and other countries. The situation is not fully corrected, but certainly has improved.

According to a recent study (October, 2010), “Just over half of American adults are concerned about the safety of toys being sold this holiday season despite the fact that most have yet to buy a toy recalled for safety reasons.”  These results reflect consumer awareness and the concerns of the buying public. Perhaps, this is the best safeguard of all to ensuring safety in the market place.

The issues -- lead in toys, cadmium in child’s jewelry and renewed focus on the possible dangers of Bisphenol A plastics still show that more has to be done.  A University of Massachusetts study released in 2010 stated that in the past three years,   “…17 million toys have been recalled in the U.S. over high lead levels.”  The report highlighted the need to prevent these toxic toys from ever being manufactured.

For all of these reasons and to further protect our infants and children – Hot Topic Toy Safety will continue to focus attention on this continuing serious problem.  


Updated January 2008

Over the past five years the number of products manufactured in China and then recalled within the United States by the [federal] Consumer Product Safety Commission has doubled.  In 2006, there were 467 recalls of products imported to the US.  In 2000, Chinese manufactured products were responsible for 36 percent of all product recalls in the US – and this number has increased to 60 percent of all recalls.

This dramatic increase can be attributable mostly to an increase in toy recalls -- with China manufacturing 70-80 percent of all toys sold in the US, according to the Toy Industry Association.

According to the Toy Industry Association (TIA), the agency has provided toymakers with voluntary safety standard for all toys.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) also regulates toys through its own force of inspectors to monitor the marketplace for both domestic- produced and foreign-made toys.

The toy industry -- along with other businesses -- has moved so much American manufacturing to China in order to cut costs, that the industry players are now exposed to growing problems despite regulations, laws and voluntary industry efforts to contain the issues. Public-health experts say Chinese manufacturers repeatedly revert to lead paint regardless of the rules or oversight because it is cheap and readily available, and cutting corners helps factories meet relentless customer (marketers) and retailer and consumer pressures to contain costs. Such violations easily slip through because of regulatory gaps in both nations.

The Chinese government has tried to reassure consumers about the safety of its products. Chinese Minister of Commerce Bo Xilai stated in summer 2007 – as the holiday buying season moved front-of-mind in the US -- that more than 99 percent of Chinese exports are safe and of good quality. But, it is that 1 percent that is drawing the attention of American parents.   They are seeking answers…they want someone to be accountable and tell them which toys are safe for their children and grandchildren.

U.S. law is pretty clear. The importer is responsible for quality and safety of goods imported into the country," said Erin Ennis, vice president with the U.S.-China Business Council. "But the Chinese can absolutely do more to prevent safety issues."  (One consequence of this issue: more Plaintiff Bar lawsuits against US companies.)

U.S. retailers and toy makers, including Mattel, have attempted to devise processes to prevent products with lead contamination and other problems from reaching shelves. But the company systems vary, and these efforts haven't kept problem toys from slipping through the process. Sometimes, toys that have passed inspection more than once are later found to contain excessive levels of lead paint.  This is a sign that Chinese companies may have been able to deceive the safety inspections.

Combined with the recent scares in the United States of Chinese-made pet food (2007) and globally of Chinese-made pharmaceuticals and toothpaste, the string of toy recalls is inspiring new demands for stepped-up enforcement of safety by United States regulators and importers, as well as by the government and industry forces in China.

Consumers, advocates, media, and the public sector -- all are seeking stepped-up enforcement of safety by United States regulators and importers, as well as by the government and industry in China.

As the 2007 Christmas season moved into high gear for consumers and retailers, toy safety became a very hot topic -- Accountability- Central Editors focus on news, commentary, reliable data and information, and research, to help all players better understand the issue; seek solutions; ascertain who is responsible; propose solutions; make intelligent buying decisions; and lobby for changes to protect the safety of our children.   


We’re interested in your news, views and commentary on these critical issues.

Section Created November 2007 by the Editors



Latest on Toy Safety Imports

July 15, 2013 Tougher EU toy safety rules may hurt Chinese

Source: China Daily USA

Chinese toy exports to Europe may take a further hit by an updated EU Toy Safety Directive which will be implemented on July 20,2013 and designed to improve the chemical safety requirements for toys sold in the European market.

April 23, 2013 Where the Toys Come From: Inside Hasbro’s Model Workshop

Source: Gizmodo

Designing toys takes sketching and planning and imagining, sure. But what's even more impressive is the actual making—still a much more industrial and craftsmanlike process than you'd imagine. It requires, essentially, a whole...

April 18, 2013 When it comes to making toys greener, Walmart isn't playing around

GreenBiz - This is the third in a series of stories about Walmart's supplier sustainability index. An overview is here, and a story about flour, bread and agriculture is here. Today's topic: plastic toys. Walmart wants to improve...

April 16, 2013 Overstock, Toys 'R' Us Recall Magnet Sets on Ingestion Fears

Source: Fox Business Inc. (OSTK) and Toys "R" Us Inc. are the latest retailers recalling certain toy magnet sets due to concerns that the magnets might cause internal injury when ingested, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said.

March 22, 2013 The Environmental Impacts Of Childrens Toys


Have you heard about the biodegradable toys they make these days? These toys “disappear” in months. Seriously. This is from a website selling toys made of Eco-friendly bio-plastic:

March 15, 2013 Imaginarium Activity Walker Recall: Toys"R"Us Recalls Thousands Of Walkers Due To Choking Hazards

Source: Huff Post

Toys"R"Us has issued a voluntary safety recall of about 9,000 activity walkers. The Imaginarium Activity Walkers are being recalled by Toys"R"Us, because "the small bolt and spacer that attaches each front wheel to the walker can...

March 14, 2013 Recall: Toys R Us Imaginarium Activity Walker (Choking Hazard)

Source: The Rock Father

The folks at the Consumer Product Safety Commission hit The Rock Father with an email tonight regarding a voluntary recall of an Imaginarium Activity Walker sold exclusively through Toys "R" Us. Full details on the recall have...

March 13, 2013 Bipartisan Bill Could Take Toxic Toys off the Market

Source: The Lund Report

The Toxics Disclosure for Healthy Kids Act, pushed by the Oregon Environmental Council, would require large manufactures to report if 19 toxic chemicals are used in their children’s products, and then phase them out over five...

February 12, 2013 Corporations Charged for Allegedly Importing Hazardous Toys From China

Source: Claims

.Five individuals and five corporations have been charged for allegedly importing hazardous and counterfeit toys from China for sale in the United States. These charges stem from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs...

February 11, 2013 Barnacles! Counterfeiters Importing Lead-Laden Toy Knockoffs From China Busted By The Feds

Source: The Village Voice

Can marketing counterfeit versions of Sponge Bob Square Pants (actual cartoon at right) and Dora the Explorer filled with lead, other dangerous chemicals and choking hazards to children make you rich? Yes, boys and girls, it sure...

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