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Children's toys

“How do I know my children’s toys are safe?”

New mum Anne lives in Limerick, Ireland, with her husband and 18-month-old baby, Sean. Now that Sean is getting older, Anne wants to be sure that the toys she gives him to play with are safe.

"Every Christmas there are horror stories in the media about dangerous toys on the market that could kill or seriously injure children. How can I, as a parent, know whether the toys I buy for my child won’t harm him?"

As Anne is living in the European Union, she should not have to worry about the safety of toys bought from reputable manufacturers. EU rules on product safety stipulate that it is the responsibility of producers and distributors to place only safe products on the market. Moreover, if faulty products are discovered, protective measures are taken very rapidly. Toys, cosmetics and electrical equipment have to adhere to additional safety requirements.

Surveillance authorities in each EU country are responsible for making sure that products meet safety requirements. If products do not measure up, authorities can withdraw them from the market, request a recall from shops, issue warnings, or take any other appropriate measures.

Following the recent toy recalls and product safety crisis with Chinese imports, Commissioner Meglena Kuneva set out a series of initiatives to help boost the effectiveness of the European product safety system. The Commission carried out a first stocktaking exercise, whose results where presented on 22 November 2007. Priority measures which will move forward in the coming months include: an in-depth audit of business safety measures in the toy supply chain (completion first quarter 2008); a series of specific measures to reinforce risk based surveillance by national market surveillance and customs authorities - including a targeted measure by the Commission requiring appropriate warnings about the dangers of magnets in toys. Increasing co-operation with China and the US will remain a priority. China will put in place a domestic alert system modelled on the RAPEX system to co-ordinate work with the regions and increase effective cooperation.

Evaluating Business safety measures in the toy supply chainEN - Final report pdf