Thursday, August 19, 2010

Toxic toy story sparks major scare

Supermarkets and major retailers in Singapore are scrambling to recall
more toys after a national survey revealed that half of 50 toys
available on shelves contained chemicals which can be harmful to

The survey done by the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case)
revealed on Monday that 23 out of the 50 toys tested were found to
contain excessive amounts of lead and phthalates, a chemical commonly
added to plastics to increase durability and flexibility.

All of the toxic toys were made in China, and some even had the “CE”
mark, a label signifying it conformed to European Union safe product

Excessive lead levels in children can potentially harm the nervous
system and kidneys and affect speech, hearing and language learning,
while phthalates may disrupt natural hormone levels and affect

The Straits Times reports that the findings have sparked off a chain
reaction from Singapore retailers who are pulling off toys from their
shelves in question. It has also prompted retailers to do more checks
on imported toys in their stores.

Supermarket and department store chains, FairPrice and Giant, said
that they will now work with respective suppliers on ways to improve
checks on the toys sold in their outlets. Giant, in addition, plans to
conduct a review of its products.

Giant toy store Toys ‘R’ Us has recalled two items being sold — a 20cm
Toys ‘R’ Us-branded doll dress in sportswear, and a girls’ accessories
set by Boley.

Local retail chain Minitoons, has withdrawn two toys identified as
toxic and three others from the same product ranges which are also
currently being tested.

The toxic toys are either soft, flexible toys shaped like egg tarts or
soft toy keychains that look like tofu. A total of 1,000 toys have
been recalled from 16 Minitoons outlets.

Minitoons assistant general manager, Mr Andrew Ang , told The Straits
Times that about 500 of those toys have been sold. He said his
company, which orders its stocks from China, rarely tests its products
as it believes that the suppliers would comply with China’s safety

Other toy retailers are adopting a “wait and see” game.

Tai Sing and Megcorp, which imports some of the toxic toys, say that
they do not intend to conduct checks while Megcorp will continue to
rely on reputable factories instead.

Tai Sing’s director A.K. Wong, said, “It’s not within our
jurisdiction. I don’t agree (with Case that) it’s our responsibility.
We are not a manufacturer; we are just an importer.”

Still, the company will look to the Government and Case for advice on
the next necessary steps.

This is not the first time made-in-China toys have been found to
contain toxic materials.

Two years ago, toy maker Mattel had to recall 9 million Chinese-made
toys, including popular Barbie, Polly Pocket and “Cars” movie items
due to the presence of lead paint and tiny magnets that could be

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