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Thursday, January 28, 2010

EUROPE : New RAPEX guidelines published today

The New Rapex Guidelines is now published.
http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/safety/rapex/guidelines_states_en.htm

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

FOOD LIKE TOYS

This funny video explains the risks of food-like toys:

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009

CADMIUM : Factory pollution in China leads to 2 deaths + 509 people intoxicated

Early august, 2 people died and 509 have been intoxicated following a leak of CADMIUM in Xianghe Chemical Factory, a Zinc Sulfate factory in the Hunan province (Central China).

Cadmium, a heavy metal, is forbidden to be used for manufacturing toys for children.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

CHILDREN BOOKS : Choking, Cuts and Strangulation risks




Children activity books should be considered and testes as toys.

In Denmark, the editor of the Tiger/Legebog book had to recall a play book with a wire binder for safety reasons.

A mixture of coloured cords is attached to the book in a zip bag. There is also one sticker sheet. The book consists of nine pages made of cardboard with holes for the cords. The pages have bright colours and simple images. The approximate dimension of the book is: 195 x 185 mm.

The product poses a risk of:
- choking because the metal spine can be pulled off by a child. The spine and stickers can be swallowed, as they fit into the small parts cylinder;
- cuts because the released spine has sharps points that can cut the skin;
- strangulation because the cords are longer than 380 mm (640 mm) and can form nooses.

The product does not comply with the Toys Directive and the relevant European standard EN 71.


Friday, July 10, 2009

TPR TOYS : The material burns to fast = unsafe !


This kind of toys, made of TPR, is highly flammable due to the addition of oil during the manufacturing process. No TPR toy can be considered safe for children. This week, a recall happened, once again, in Germany for the toy shown below.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment views about Toy Safety

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) discussed to safety during their seventh Consumer Protection Forum meeting last month.


"Children are not small adults", German risk assessment body warns

After the Forum, they conclude that children need to be treated as a separate consumer group and reiterates its criticisms of the revised EU toy safety Directive for failing to sufficiently protect children from exposure to potentially harmful chemicals (CW 6 January 2009).

One of the questions posed at its forum, BfR notes, is "whether manufacturers should really produce everything that sells – even if such toys could be dangerous for children under certain circumstances - and whether they can rely on parents constantly keeping an eye on their children when playing with the toys."

Dependence on quality marks such as the EU's CE mark is also said to be misguided.

Friday, June 5, 2009

MATTEL fined $2.3 mln for lead-tainted toys from China

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has fined MATTEL Inc $2.3 million for violating a ban on bringing dangerous products into the United States.  

The fine stems from the toymaker's 2007 recall of 95 types of toys and up to 2 million units, primarily for excessive lead in paint, including the "Sarge" toy car and Barbie brand accessories. 

A 1978 law bans toys and other children's articles that have more than 0.06 percent lead by weight in coatings. 

Source: Reuters

Monday, May 11, 2009

Main risks caused by recalled toys in 2008

The main product safety risks that caused european 2008 recalls (all product categories) are listed below :

CHINA : Nothing new...

China remains the factory of the world as we look at the statistics of recalled products originating country for all 2008 european recalls.  

EUROPE : Toys is still the major recalled product category


In 2008, TOYS is still the major recalled product category representing 32% of all products recalled by european authorities in 2008.

Clic to zoom : 

EUROPE: 2008 product recalls at record high














Product recalls and notifications of dangerous merchandise reached record levels in the European Union last year, with the number of suspect goods reported more than double that in the US. The rate of notifications was up by about 15 per cent and 1,546 faulty items were reported, compared with 1,337 in the previous year and more than 700 in 2005.

Clic to zoom :
 

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

MATTEL = Toy Monster ?

Five Questions for Jerry Oppenheimer, author of Toy Monster: The Big, Bad World of Mattel



Mattel is a beloved and iconic toy company – what first inspired you to write an expose of the “secret side” of the company?

All of my previous books have been about iconic people and dynasties – The Kennedys, Clintons, Hiltons, Martha Stewart, Barbara Walters, Jerry Seinfeld. But for my ninth book I decided to write about an iconic institution, one that was a household name whose products had a profound impact on generations. Mattel fit the profile – especially since it was in the headlines for the massive toy recalls in 2007, and with the iconic Barbie doll’s 50th anniversary looming this year.

How did you gather all the information that you discuss in the book?

I gathered everything that was in the public record about Mattel, going back to its earliest days to the present, more than 60 years worth. That kind of organization is important for a biography such as the one I planned to write about Mattel. Then I began doing the legwork, tracking down former and present Mattel employees and executives, and interviewing them on the record about their experiences at Mattel, about the company’s corporate culture, and cast of characters. Then came the immense job of organizing all of that material and research and writing what I hope readers will enjoy and from which they will learn.

What was the most shocking revelation you uncovered in the course of writing Toy Monster?

There were many jaw-droppers and shockers that surfaced during my research. One especially was the vicious feud between Jack Ryan, the Father of Barbie, and Ruth Handler, the co-founder of Mattel, over who conceived and developed the company’s best-known and biggest-selling toy, Barbie.

The book reveals many little-known facts about the company history of Mattel and the odd corporate culture. What, in your opinion, is the most misconstrued assumption in popular opinion that you address in Toy Monster?

During the course of my research, I discovered that Jack Ryan was the key person to bring Barbie in to the world, but that Handler, after Ryan’s death, dismissed and denigrated his major contributions, taking all credit for the iconic doll. After Ryan committed suicide, Handler wrote an autobiography and etched her story in stone that Barbie was all her idea from start to finish, and that myth has since been perpetuated. For the first time Toy Monster gives Ryan’s side of the previous untold story, and flips the birth of Barbie 180 degrees.

What’s the one thing you’d like readers to take away after reading Toy Monster?

Don’t be fooled by those wonderful playthings. Behind the scenes the big business of toys is a highly competitive battleground, and is far from fun and games.

Source : Amazon.Com

USA : Obama to nominate new chairman and commissioner to the CPSC

President Obama today announced that he intends to nominate Inez Moore Tenenbaum as chair of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Robert S. Adler as a new commissioner of the agency. Both nominations need Senate approval. The President also announced his intention to increase the agency's budget by 71 percent (over fiscal year 2007 levels) to $107 million.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

MADE in USA : Are they safer than Chinese toys ?

Some american parents feel saver giving US Made Toys to their children.
While 80%+ of toys sold in the US originate from China, this website lists the major makers of US Made toys.  

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The H1N1 virus plush : ACHUFY !


A man from Mexico has been attempting to capitalize on the swine flu (H1N1 virus) with a new stuffed animal called the Achufy!

The small, blue stuffed character is supposed to commemorate the latest outbreak of H1N1 in Mexico and across the globe, reports WQAD. For 345 pesos (or $30.00) you can own Achufy!

Friday, May 1, 2009

MAD SCIENTIST : How to create unsafe toys - Lesson 1


Creating new toys often comes by mixing ideas between them freely. As an example, a toy plane is a toy plane and a spoon is a spoon, but if you stick a plane on a spoon, you get a "flying spoon" toy. Of course, to reach such results, we need to allow our brain to think outside of the box and avoid self-censorship in the first place because good ideas are not always obvious at first.

While everybody talks about the origin of the A-flu H1N1 virus spreading the world, I've been wondering : Could we have the same global spreading success if we could mix some innovations together to sell "pork toys" the same way mexican intensive farming units have been mixing pork/poultry/human flu virus in unsafe and unclean Gloria, Veracruz, Mexican farms .

Fact N°1 :
In Europe, a famous antique pork-based toy called "The laughing pork" was successfull for years. Therefore, pigs is a good way to go to make a popular toy.
The toy is now "public domain".

Fact N°2 :
Winny the Pooh's "Piglet" is famous pig character for chidren. Therefore, we would negotiate with Disney a licence for making a Piglet toy to make the toy even more popular.

Fact N°3 :
Glow in dark toys such as these "Glow in dark frisbees" are very popular with kids. The sales are good during Haloween and winter season (because it is darker during the day when children are awake).



Fact N°4 :
Sea Monkeys is famous in the US, because kids are "proud as god" to give life to a breed of shrimps. In Europe, we imported this breed under the name "Pifises" for one of our client last year as a children magazine promotion covermount, and the sales of their magazine tripled ! Therefore, kids like to "give life". Therefore, the toy should be "alive" like "pifise".




Fact N°5 :
Children love innovations in toys. Luckily, Taiwanese scientists have recently managed to grow a breed of glow in dark porks. True! We got our innovation to please kids.



Knowing that children love pets and that the mexican farming industry is able to sell pork with a H1N1 virus as "food", why couldn't we sell a Disney licenced "grow your own glow in dark Piglet animal" as a new toy to our children ?

Let's all become mad scientists !

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Fake CE logo = China Export ?



ATX-5000 brand batteries for computers sold in France under the Suza brand are showing a CE logo that isn't a CE conformity logo, but a "China Export" logo. The only difference is a very small difference on the "E" middle bar dimensions.
The importer is Suza France.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

FORBIDDEN : Dimethylfumarate (DMF)

On 20th March 2009 the European Commission adopted a Decision under Article 13 of the General Product Safety Directive (2001/95/EC) regarding the biocide DMF in consumer products. The Decision indicates that DMF is an unauthorised biocidal substance which has appeared in products coming into the EU and has caused severe allergic reactions in hundreds of consumers causing a serious risk to consumer health; including skin itching, irritation, redness, burns and, in some cases, acute respiratory difficultly.

DMF is used to prevent mould growth on products in humid or damp conditions. It is often placed in sachets, which are fixed inside furniture or added to footwear boxes where it evaporates and impregnates the product to protect it during transportation and storage. Although it has previously been primarily associated with leather products, furniture (sofas in particular) and footwear; a velour toy has recently been recalled in France due to the presence of DMF.

From 1 May 2009 no products containing DMF shall be placed or made available on the market and products (or parts of products) containing more than 0.1mg/kg DMF already placed or made available on the market must be withdrawn and recalled from consumers.

Considering the recent recall of the soft toy, importers and retailers of toys are advised to ensure that no anti-mould sachets containing DMF are, or have been, included with their products or raw materials during transit.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Disney recalls 'Handy Manny' tool sets

Disney Stores USA, Pasadena, Calif., is recalling 20,000 units of its made in China Playhouse Disney “Handy Manny” Toy Tool Sets that contain eyes that can separate, posing a choking hazard to young children. There have been three reports of detached eyes, including two reports of children who started to choke on the pieces. No injuries have been reported.

Despite the CPSC recall notice dated Feb 19th , many international eBay websites suchwere still selling these auctions Disney toys, with some auctions originating after the recall.
It seems eBay is not reading the CPSC recall notices.

More importantly, it seems even Disney did not look into these then-fraudulous auctions where they could click on the eBay button to signal that this item is forbidden (which is possible on the european eBay sites), so that eBay can immediatly stop the corresponding auctions.  

The recalled toy UPC-barcodes #405144100614 or #422147400633 can be located on the product’s packaging. Because the recall is concerning "only" 20000 pcs, it might be that the other toys on sale might not be from the same shipment, but who knows the UPC-barcodes fof the toys auctions originating after the recall ?

Monday, March 2, 2009

ELECTRIC & TEXTILE : Santa's hat on fire ?


Last week in the United Kingdom, the importer of a flashing Santa hat (BGC Ltd) proceeded to a voluntary withdrawal from the market after receiving many consumers complaints that the hat could cause burns and a risk of fire due to a risk of short-circuits.

The product poses a risk of burns and fire because of bare wires which can come into contact with each other causing a ‘short-circuit’ to occur. 

This could have resulted in the wires rapidly heating up and igniting, with a risk of the textile materials burning.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

CHINA : Average wage is rising each year

The average monthly salary is around $250/month, up from $50/month in 1995.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

INDIA / CHINA : A toys war !

JANUARY 23rd 2009 - 

With effect from Jan 23, the Indian government imposed a ban on Chinese toys for a period of six months. The Indian government has said the ban on toys was implemented on the grounds of 'public health and safety'. But some Indian analysts have suggested the move was aimed at shielding India's struggling toy industry against a flood of Chinese imports.

MARCH 2nd 2009 - 

With immediate effect, India lifted the ban on importing toys from China provided they conform to international safety norms prescribed in "ASTM F963" or "ISO 8124 (parts I - III) or IS 9873 (parts I - III)". 


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

USA : New Edition of ASTM F963 Toy Safety Standard Published Today


180-day Clock Starts for Transition to New Edition under the CPSIA

New York, NY | February 17, 2009 – A new edition of the Consumer Safety Specification for Toy Safety, ASTM F963-2008, has been published today by ASTM International.   This widely used toy safety standard includes guidelines and test methods to protect children from a wide range of potential hazards, including lead exposure, choking, and sharp edges.  Changes included in the new edition include new safety guidelines for magnetic components in toys and a number of other potential hazards.

Already widely used by the industry, under the terms of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) F963 became a federally mandated safety specification on February 10, 2009.   

Under the law, the 2007 edition of the standard is still mandatory.  In a letter sent today to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, ASTM International – the standard developing organization responsible for ongoing maintenance of the specification – informed the agency of the new edition.  

If the CPSC agrees that the revisions improve safety, there will be a six month window before the new standard goes into effect under the law. 

“This will give industry an opportunity to become familiar with updates from the previous edition,” explained Joan Lawrence, TIA vice president of safety standards and regulatory affairs.

According to ASTM, enhancements and additions now approved for F963 include the following:

  • Magnets — (enhancement) Revisions account for incidents of ingestion due to magnetic components that were small parts of a toy and to reflect the age of children involved in the incidents. The section on magnets now also includes special use and abuse requirements to avoid magnets from detaching from components during play.

  • Acoustics — (enhancement) Requirements to this section were changed to provide greater clarity. The revisions to this section also further harmonization between F963 and the European toy standard, EN71-1.

  • Yo-Yo Tether Toys — (addition) Requirements have been added to address potential strangulation hazards associated with yo-yo elastic tether toys intended for children three years of age or older. 

  • Impaction hazards — (enhancement) A new section providing impaction hazard requirements for toys intended for children up to the age of 48 months has been added. Diagrams of spherical and hemispherical ends were also added. 

  • Flammability — (enhancement) Revision establishes the protocol and general criteria for flammability testing of solids and soft toys in conformance with the requirements of 16CFR 1500.3(c)(6)(vi).

Other revised areas of the standard include sections on jaw entrapment; packaging film/age requirements as they pertain to use and abuse testing; and folding mechanisms and hinges.

The standard does not affect the limits for lead or phthalates as described in the CPSIA.

“Congressional recognition of ASTM 963 signifies the thoroughness of the standard and the role of ASTM in toy safety,” said Joan Lawrence, TIA vice president of safety standards and regulatory affairs.  “TIA is pleased to introduce this updated version of the standard to our constituents and encourage all companies in the toy industry – manufacturers and retailers – to get involved in the standards process.”

ASTM F963 is maintained by ASTM International Committee F15, Consumer Products and its Subcommittee on Toy Safety.  The subcommittee is comprised of technical experts from academia, consumer groups, industry and government who work together to review and update the standard on a regular basis; it is chaired by Joan Lawrence. 

Copies of the standard are available in electronic format or hard copy from ASTM International.

About TIA
TIA is the not-for-profit trade association for producers and importers of toys and youth entertainment products sold in North America, representing over 500 companies who account for approximately 85% of domestic toy sales.  Toy safety is the number one priority for the toy industry. TIA has a long history of leadership in toy safety including development of the first comprehensive toy safety standard more than 30 years ago, and working with government, consumers and industry on ongoing programs to ensure safe play.  

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

USA : Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act

On February 10, 2009, the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act became effective, which means the following changes to the current regulation :

Test Method: CPSC-CH-E1003-09 – Standard Operating Procedure for Determining Lead (Pb) in Paint and Other Similar Surface Coatings, April 26, 2009 [PDF]

Stay of Enforcement of the Lead Content Limits for Certain Youth Motorized Recreational Vehicles, April 28, 2009 [PDF]

Record of Commission Action – Request from ATV Companies for Exclusion from Lead Content Limits under Section 101(b)(1) of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) [PDF]


Monday, December 22, 2008

HOUSE FIRE due to defective christmas tree lights !

video

Each year, many children die because of house fires caused by defective Christmas tree lights. This video shows that the fire can spread in no more than 40 seconds across an average size living room.

Friday, November 28, 2008

WAL MART : Identifying the factories to improve quality

In the wake of recent scandals, Wal-Mart is setting strict new policies continuing its sustainability push with its Chinese suppliers.

The company recently announced a broad program to address these and related issues, with a goal of driving the need to return defective merchandise "virtually out of existence" by 2012.

"A company that cheats on overtime and on the age of its labor, that dumps its scraps and chemicals in our rivers, that does not pay its taxes or honor its contracts, will ultimately cheat on the quality of its products," CEO Lee Scott said in a press statement.

A key element of the new program is the requirement that suppliers of goods to Wal-Mart identify each factory where the products are made, allowing Wal-Mart to track and inspect those factories more easily.

The agreement will be phased in with suppliers in China in January 2009 and expand to other Wal-Mart suppliers around the world by 2011, the company said in a meeting in Beijing with over 1,000 of its top suppliers, Chinese officials and non-governmental organizations.

Wal-Mart is also asking the top 200 factories it buys from directly in China to improve their energy efficiency by 20% by 2012. Whether this goal can be met is unclear, but indicates Wal-Mart continues to push sustainability issues aggressively.

Do you think Wal-Mart can eliminate product defects from China by 2012?
What would it take to get there?
Do you know where your Chinese supplier factories are?

Let us know your thoughts.

Monday, November 17, 2008

BALLOONS : Product recall in Germany

We had already mentionned how dangerous so-called "Magic balloons" can be from a chemical point of view, but we were surprised that Toy's R US was still selling it.
But recently in Germany, a Magic Balloon product called "Formbare Ballons aus der Tube – Pâte à Ballons" has been recently recalled.The product is composed of 3 metal tubes containing coloured viscous balloon paste and a small plastic blow pipe to help children blowing their own "plastic ballons".Because of the viscousity of the paste, the blown balloons can stay inflated for a long time. The product poses a chemical risk because the content of benzene in the free state is 45.6 mg/kg in the red balloon paste and 37.6 mg/kg in the blue balloon paste, which is 7 to 9 times more than the maximum permitted. The product does not comply with the Chemical Restrictions Directive 76/769/EEC. The manufacturer made a voluntary withdrawal from the market.

GLUE : Who wants to drink glue ?


A spanish importer has been distributing GLUE packed in a baby milk-drinking bottle, under the brand "Warm Baby". The glue is packaged in a bottle that has the form of a baby's bottle. The product poses a chemical risk because, in addition to shortcomings as regards the labelling, the glue is packaged in a bottle that looks exactly like a baby's bottle, and thus may mislead children. If children ingest the glue there is the risk of poisoning or gastrointestinal upsets.The product does not comply with the Directive 87/357/EEC on products which, appearing to be other than what they are, endanger the health or safety of consumers. Withdrawal from the market ordered by the authorities.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

In China, all plastic parts, including used toys (see photo), are recycled by hand to be re-used to make brand new plastic items such as... .unsafe toys !

Plastics are classified by hand based on their physical properties : soft, hard, flat, vaccuum formed, colorful, white or transparent, before they can be crushed and re-injected into toys or other plastic parts. The safe way would be to inject only some plastic parts that are not used by Children, in order to avoid the heavy metals risks for example, but this is not the case.

For many toys factories, using such recycled plastics is a cheap alternative to keep prices down... but it's also a very unsafe alternative for our children!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

China's migrant workers return home after quake

When Sichuan was hit by the unprecendented earthquake, many migrant workers took the road to reach & help their families & friends, who often where more than 25 hours away by bus.

Sichuan is China's second most populous province and one of its poorest. Its biggest export is migrant workers — 11 million of them, or 13 percent of its 87.5 million population. They provide much of the muscle for China's economic transformation, filling jobs in manufacturing, construction, and coal mines around the country. Now, so many need money to rebuild homes that even more are likely to join the migrant exodus.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

NY TIMES : Why do we play ?

The NY Times cover story about the value of play (read online  : Taking Play Seriously) explores the question: Is there really an evolutionary or developmental need for play and what is lost when people play less?

The author, Robin Marantz Henig, explores the biological and sociological research on play in animals, children, and adults.

Ref: NY Times Sunday Magazine, dated Feb 17, 2008.
Photographies : http://tomschierlitz.com/

Thursday, May 1, 2008

CANTON : Huanya Gifts - Christmas Tree Ornaments

In December 2007, two nongovernmental organizations, or NGO's, documented what they said were abuse and labor violations at 15 factories that produce or supply goods for Wal-Mart — including the use of child labor at Huanya Gifts, a factory based in Guangzhou that makes Christmas tree ornaments.

Wal-Mart officials say they are investigating the allegations, which were in a report issued three weeks ago by the National Labor Committee, a New York-based NGO.

Guangzhou labor bureau officials say they recently fined Huanya for wage violations, but officials say they found no evidence of child labor. A spokesman for Huanya, which employs 8,000 workers, denied that the company broke any labor laws. But two workers interviewed outside Huanya's huge complex in late December said that they were forced to work long hours to meet production quotas in harsh conditions.

"I work on the plastic molding machine from 6 in the morning to 6 at night," said Xu Wenquan, a tiny, baby-faced 16-year-old whose hands were covered with blisters.
Asked what had happened to his hands, he replied, the machines are "quite hot, so I've burned my hands."

His brother, Xu Wenjie, 18, said the two young men left their small village in impoverished Guizhou Province four months ago and traveled more than 500 miles to find work at Huanya.
The brothers said they worked 12 hours a day, six days a week, for $120 to $200 a month, far less than they are required to be paid by law.

When government inspectors visit the factory, the young brothers are given the day off, they said.

A former Huanya employee who was reached by telephone gave a similar account of working conditions, saying many workers suffered from skin rashes after working with gold powders and that others were forced to sign papers "volunteering" to work overtime.

"It's quite noisy, and you stand up all day, 12 hours, and there's no air-conditioning," he said. "We get paid by the piece we make but they never told us how much. Sometimes I got $110, sometimes I got $150 a month."

In its 58-page report, the National Labor Committee scolded Wal-Mart for not doing more to protect workers. The group charged that last July, Huanya recruited about 500 16-year-old high school students to work seven days a week, often 15 hours a day, during peak production months for holiday merchandise.

Several students interviewed at the Guangzhou Technical School, less than two miles from Huanya, confirmed that classmates ages 16 to 18 had spent the summer working at the factory.
Some high school students later went on strike to protest the harsh conditions, the report said. The students also told labor officials that at least seven children, as young as 12 years old, were working in the factory.

"At Wal-Mart, Christmas ornaments are cheap, and so are the lives of the young workers in China who make them," the National Labor Committee report said.

Jonathan Dong, a Wal-Mart spokesman in Beijing, said the company would soon release details of its own investigation into working conditions at Huanya.

(c) New York Times

PRODUCT RECALLS NOTICES

A new regulation that would force importers to inform their national authorities about the names & locations of the factories that produced the recalled products would truly help Chinese authorities, other importers & B2B chinese portals to clean up the mess. The unrespectfull factories should go out of business as soon as possible, to let us do our work properly with the respectfull ones !

We all need to have a proper blacklist of unrespectfull or dangerous factoriess.

The problem is that the official product recalls notices published by official governmental safety agencies (which are the only way to gather 100% of the recall information) should also include the names of the factories that produced the toys, in order to help B2B export products portals such as www.made-in-china.com to exclude these factories from their website.

Of course, this would not include the subcontractors of these factories who may be the true cause of the problem, but aren't the main factories responsible for the subcontractors, and the trading companies for their suppliers.

In 2007, Aubrey Liu, who works in the Web operations department of Made-in-China, said in an email message (to the International Herald Tribune) that it was difficult for her department to pick out recalled products on her site because the Us Consumer Product Safety Commission does not include the names of manufacturers in recall notices.

This is an example of the US CPSC product recall for Fisher Price Toys :

Why don't we mention the factory names on the recall notices ?

Importers who Toy makers who get their products recall don't want to mention the factory names for various reasons :

1) They need time to investigate & solve the problem with the factory to understand the true cause of the problems. In a way, this also gives them the time to fake & organise an alternative story to tell to the media & clients. It's too late for an independant analysis of the situation in the factory.

2) They don't want additional the reporters to know, as it would draw even more media attention

3) They are afraid of the action groups such as China Labor Watch, a famous action group that already investigated factories that work for Disney, GAP or Wal-Mart.

4) The factories don't want the importers to make the information public, as they fear for their reputation and for a closure by the Chinese authorities. Since August, many factories have been shut down by the Chinese government bodies.

Still, this is exactly what needs to be done.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

CHINA / TEXTILE : New report from www.playfair2008.org

A new report from www.playfair2008.org about the working conditions in China in the sports & textile industry is now available online.

Web : http://www.playfair2008.org

Friday, February 29, 2008

Baby toy manufacturers to switch to other product lines or cease operations

The costs associated with complying to stricter overseas and domestic regulations is pushing many small to medium baby toy manufacturers to switch product lines or close down, according to Global Sources’ China Sourcing Report: Baby Toys.

The survey found that 41 per cent of suppliers believed stricter overseas standards would be a big challenge over the next year. 23 per cent identified price competition as their biggest challenge while 18 per cent indicated higher raw material costs.

Other challenges indicated were design copying, piracy and labour shortages.

"Due to these higher costs, we expect consolidation in the industry with a number of small to medium manufacturers switching to other product lines or shutting down permanently,” Spenser Au, the report’s publisher said.


"Due to higher operating costs, including raw material and labour costs, most manufacturers said they plan to raise prices in 2008,” Au also said.

Accordingly, 82 per cent of manufacturers surveyed plan to increase prices, with almost 60 per cent of respondents saying they’ll limit the price increases by up to five per cent.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Toys ``R'' Us Toughening Safety Standards

TOYS'R US will soon have stricter safety standards for the products it sells in its more than 1,500 stores. Starting March 1, the Wayne-based toy retailer is setting a much tighter standard for the amount of lead allowed in toys made just for the chain.

It's also barring two chemicals that have raised safety concerns in products for infants and young children.

By the end of the year, there also won't be nickel-cadmium batteries in Toys ''R'' Us products -- a move meant to help the environment.

The company says the changes should meet or exceed new federal standards expected from Congress.

Source : AP

Friday, February 15, 2008

MADE IN USA : A pen with hazardous ethylene glycol ink ?

After the toothpaste, here comes the pen with dangerous chemicals, but... with made in USA inks!

A purple color "UV Pen" or "Spy /detective pen " or "Invisible ink pen" manufactured in China allows youngs kids love they unlock secret hidden messages likes detective do, or hide their secrets in their notebook while nobody will be able to read their secrets.

Inside some of these (purple color) pens, the made-in-USA ink, manufactured by National Ink, Inc. (Santee, California) under reference SW (for "Secret Writer" Ink), used to be manufactured by the company using Ethylene Glycol Phenyl Esthers and Diethylene Glycol Mono Ethyl Esthers, which are very dangerous ingredients, especially for children related products.

Some children are using the pen to write words (such as love messages) directly on their face in order to flirt-with girls while dancing under the spotlights, threfore putting their skin in direct contact with the esthers.

Today, the US company changed the formula for a safer option, but some Chinese factories are still providing the old certificate, as if they had been able to source the dangerous (cheaper) ink from within China while showing the US company past certificate in their hands.

It seems that National Ink used to sell this ink for manufacturing the pens a long time ago before switching to a safe alternative, and that some chinese factories switched to a local hazardous esther preparation of their own to keep costs down, while others did accept to pay the new preparation from National Ink. Some price differences noticed in China in April 2008 for this product seem to go in this exact direction. We are still in doubt, but the question is on the table now.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

LEAD : US CPSC Misses Chance To Curb Lead In Jewelry

The Consumer Product Safety Commission failed to exploit an opportunity to crack down on unsafe lead-tainted toy jewelry imports. This past August, Congress temporarily authorized the CPSC to make rules governing the manufacture of such products and to pursue violators in court -- powers the agency had lost after the resignation of its chairman left it without the necessary quorum. But that special authorization expired last week without the agency taking action against lead-tainted children's jewelry.

Consumer and environmental groups, as well as parents, are increasingly frustrated with the CPSC's sluggish pace. A CPSC spokeswoman said the agency didn't get to a vote to ban lead in children's jewelry because the necessary research on the issue by staff hadn't been completed before the temporary authorization expired.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Saturday, February 2, 2008

JSSY LTD - Producer of poisonous toy beads


JSSY LTD - www.jssy.com.hk - the Shenzhen company that manufactured millions of poisonous toy beads in mainland China issued a public apology on Thursday Nov 29th 2007, with the chairman saying that it had not occurred to anyone to check whether an inexpensive glue ingredient in the beads would be dangerous for children to eat.

CNN recently filmed the result of their own investigations.

The beads, marketed as Aqua Dots in North America and as Bindeez in Europe and Asia, were recalled this month after at least 14 children became sick when they ate the beads; several of the children were briefly in comas. Medical researchers in Australia discovered that the glue ingredient breaks down in the body into GHB, the date rape drug banned in the United States and capable of causing unconsciousness that can lead to death.

“Our apologies to all the children who ate the beads by accident and their parents, and overseas consumers,” JSSY Ltd., the manufacturer, said in a statement. “We apologize for all the negative effect caused by this incident to China manufacturers. We apologize for the negative effect on ‘Made in China.’”

Liao Chu-yuan, the chairman and owner of JSSY, said the company had worried about the possibility that children might choke by swallowing the beads, but had not considered the possibility that the chemicals in the beads might be poisonous.

“We really didn’t look into the F.D.A. part, the food part,” Mr. Liao said in a telephone interview, referring to the Food and Drug Administration in the United States. He said that when JSSY checked F.D.A. regulations after problems with the beads surfaced this autumn, the company quickly found that the chemical was banned in anything that people might consume.


Aqua Dots and Bindeez beads are brightly colored and somewhat smaller than jelly beans. Children assemble them in patterns and then sprinkle them with water, causing the beads to adhere and form permanent shapes.

Mr. Liao said on Thursday that JSSY had chosen a glue ingredient for the beads that cost half as much as the glue ingredient that the beads’ main distributor, Moose Enterprise of Australia, thought JSSY was using. But he said repeatedly that the inexpensive hazardous ingredient had not been used for cost reasons. The ingredient also softens the plastic beads.

JSSY tested the more expensive ingredient in its initial development of the beads and found two problems with it, according to Mr. Liao. One problem was that beads manufactured with it tended to swell when sprinkled with water, posing a choking hazard.

The other problem was that mixing plastic with the more expensive ingredient took six hours in a rotating drum and produced a sticky, oily material that was hard to manufacture into beads. The less expensive glue ingredient took just two hours in the drum and produced a more malleable mixture, Mr. Liao said.

He said that Moose Enterprise came to him nearly two years ago with samples of Japanese-made beads for children that also stick together when sprinkled with water.

Those beads, marketed in Europe and Japan as Aqua Beads, are manufactured using a different process developed for the dental industry. Aqua Beads have not been recalled. An independent European laboratory found no problems with them earlier this month, said Peter Brown, the chief executive of Flair Leisure Products, the British distributor of Aqua Beads.

JSSY spent a year independently developing its own chemical formula to produce beads similar to the Japanese toy, and then started large-scale manufacturing at the end of last year, Mr. Liao said.

JSSY did use the inexpensive glue ingredient in all the samples it sent to Moose and independent laboratories for safety tests, Mr. Liao said. The labs did not find any problems with the beads, but the labs may not have been aware the ingredient could be hazardous, he said.

The United States tightly regulates the inexpensive ingredient to prevent kitchen chemists from using it to make GHB. But in China, the same ingredient is widely used in cosmetics, including face creams, Mr. Liao said.

JSSY did not share its chemical formula with Moose, he said, adding that, “In chemistry, we usually don’t tell the marketing company our formula — our formula is valuable.”

Mr. Liao refused to say how Moose came to have the impression that the more expensive ingredient was being used. “Moose will probably sue me, so we’ll have to save it for that,” he said.

The main factory for the beads is a white three-story building with a sliding steel gate and a slogan on the front, “With the right mentality, you can go far.” The factory stands in a gritty neighborhood on the northeastern outskirts of Shenzhen, just north of Hong Kong. Two smaller factories nearby package the beads.

On a recent morning, a half-dozen suppliers to the main factory were outside the gate, complaining that they had not been paid for months.

Mr. Liao acknowledged on Thursday that he had been late in paying suppliers. He said that Moose suddenly stopped paying him altogether when the recall was announced. That left Mr. Liao with a shortage of cash to pay suppliers.

Mr. Liao said that he would be able to pay the suppliers with the proceeds from JSSY’s sales of other toys. He also repeated several times that the company’s choice of the inexpensive ingredient had not been made for financial reasons. “The cost issue is not really the issue,” he said. "We did it to improve the product quality and to ease the manufacturing process."


SOURCE :
The New York Times

LINKS:
http://www.jssy.com.hk/

JSSY LTD - CNN Report

View this report from CNN about JSSY Ltd.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

MATTEL : 2007 Financial Results Webcast

Listen to MATTEL 2007 financial results conference call.

MATTEL : Lawmakers Say Mattel Broke Word on Lead


Dozens of members of Congress sent a letter Tuesday to the chief executive of Mattel, accusing the company of not living up to its promise to keep lead-tainted toys out of children’s hands.

The letter was prompted by Mattel’s decision not to issue a nationwide recall of a blood-pressure cuff in a toy medical kit sold under the Fisher-Price brand, recalled on Dec 4th 2007. The legislators said they were disturbed by the company’s “lack of action.”

Source : The New York Times

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Snow storms = Late deliveries ?


The heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures across China for the past week have ravaged power supplies and hit millions of people trying to get home for the Lunar New Year festival, the nation's most important holiday, but it also disrupted many factories production schedule (among all industries), which could lead to late pre-Chinese new year deliveries.

For example, the fierce snow storms in China have disrupted Japanese automakers' production at their joint venture factories there owing to a lack of sufficient parts and workers.
  • Toyota Motor Corp. stopped the night shift at a joint venture factory in Guangzhou due to delayed arrival of parts.
  • Honda Motor Co., which shut its joint venture factory in Guangzhou on Tuesday and another one in Hubei on Wednesday because paint did not arrive on time.
  • Nissan Motor Co. also closed its joint venture factories in Guangdong and Hubei provinces on Monday and Tuesday.Mazda Motor Corp. meanwhile shut its joint venture factory in Nanjing for three days from Monday as the city gave priority for natural gas supplies to homes, discouraging industrial use.

"We were hearing that some workers were unable to come to work because of heavy snow. We are continuing to review the situation," she said.


Monday, January 28, 2008

RC2 : Lawsuit settlement

The maker of Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway toys has agreed to pay $30 million to settle a nationwide class-action lawsuit by thousands of families who bought lead-tainted products, a plaintiffs’ lawyer said Wednesday.

Under the deal, the company, RC2 Brands, will offer cash refunds or replacements toys, plus what the company calls a bonus toy; it also promises to put in place new quality controls, a plaintiff’s lawyer in the case, Jay Edelson, said.

The lawsuit was filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County last year, and the court gave the settlement preliminary approval on Tuesday. The judge is expected to give final approval at a hearing set for May 6, Edelson said.

The chief executive of RC2, Curt Stoelting, said the agreement builds upon “the many steps that we’ve taken to replace recalled products and improve product safety” and would help “continue to build parents’ trust.”

Source : AP

Friday, January 25, 2008

EU proposes stricter toy safety rules

BRUSSELS—The European Commission today announced a plan to toughen toy safety standards in the European Union, with particular emphasis on chemicals used in children’s playthings.

The proposed plan would replace and modernizes the 20-year-old Toys Directive 88/378/EEC, enacted in May of 1988. The revised standards have been devised to: address new and higher safety requirements to cope with recently identified hazards; strengthen manufacturers’ and importers' responsibility for the marketing of toys; and enhance the market surveillance obligations of EU member states.

“Health and safety of children is non-negotiable and cannot be subject to any compromises. That is why we have to ensure that toys put on the market in Europe are safe,” said Günter Verheugen, the Commission’s vice president responsible for enterprise and industrial policy. “The proposed new Directive which was adopted today incorporates the newest health and safety standards and improves the effectiveness and enforcement of the EU legal framework. Economic operators are now called to live up to their responsibilities to ensure that children can enjoy playing with toys without risks.”

The new legislation would:
• prohibit the use of chemical substances that are susceptible to provoke cancer, so-called CMR (Carcinogenic, Mutagenic or toxic for Reproduction) substances;
• reduce the allowed limits of certain dangerous chemical substances like lead or mercury;
• prohibit allergenic fragrances;
• oblige toy manufacturers to issue appropriate warnings to improve the prevention of accidents. (The Commission is still working on developing detailed guidelines about such warnings);
• strengthen the rules to prevent accidents due to small parts in toys;
• ban toys that are firmly attached to a food product at the moment of consumption and which require food to be consumed before getting access to the toy;
• require toy manufacturers to establish comprehensive technical information for all their toys to allow market surveillance authorities to check the design and manufacture of the toy;
• foresee testing of toys through independent laboratories where no standards for toys yet exist (for example, toys with magnets);
• reinforce the importer's responsibility for ensuring that toys imported into the EU are safe;
• enhance the visibility of the CE mark on the toy;
• oblige EU member states to strengthen market surveillance and controls on the spot and at the EU borders,
• oblige member states to impose penalties if toy manufacturers/importers do not produce toys in line with the new safety requirements.

Details of the proposal’s specific regulations can be found at http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/toys/index_en.htm

In response to the proposal, trade group Toy Industries of Europe said it welcomed the revision of the EU’s Toy Safety Directive but warned that “the new proposal will raise many challenges for the industry, in particular when it comes to the practical implementation of the new rules. We do, however, welcome the increased efforts to improve the enforcement of the safety rules to ensure that products on the market are safe. TIE looks forward to playing an active role in the future discussions on this issue in the weeks and months to come.”

The proposal’s next step will be discussions with the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers with a view towards its adoption.

Source : Playthings Magazine

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

McDonald’s Kills Promo on Jacket's of Kids' Report Cards

McDonald’s has ended a promotion in Florida on the jacket’s of children’s report cards after an advocacy group and a parent complained.

The promotion offered free Happy Meals to students in exchange for good grades, citizenship or attendance.

“In the absence of needed government regulation to protect schoolchildren from predatory companies like McDonald’s, the burden is on parents to be vigilant about exploitative marketing aimed at children.”

Mutual Community Health Insurance advertising


Mutual Community Health Insurance launched an advertising campaign to demonstrate that 70 years in the market gives you a wealth of experience in dealing with people's health needs (no matter what they are).

Monday, January 21, 2008

FUN : You must be "this happy" to ride !

A funny advertising capitalising on safety fears from www.chemistry.com.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

MATTEL : New social audit released for 4 Mattel factories

At Mattel's request, The International Center for Corporate Accountability (ICCA) just release the results of their audit of 4 Mattel-owned or Mattel-operated factories in China. The audits have been paid and ordered by Mattel.

The audit document can be downloaded here.
Mattel's remarks after the audit can be downloaded here.
The Playthings magazine article.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

CRANIUM : Tracability helps to limit Cadoo recall


Cranium, the creator of Cadoo, and the CSPC have announced a product recall for Cadoo games.

Thanks to an excellent tracability system
, only the die found in Cranium Cadoo board games with lot numbers 2007195 through 2007244 are included in the recall. The Cranium Cadoo game is packaged in a square cardboard box with an orange background. The seven digit lot number is printed under the plastic tray on the bottom half of the box.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Pop up books & toy books must be tested as toys

(c) Little Simon & Robert Sabuda, Alice in Wonderland Pop Up Book

Publishers of toy books & Pop Up books should not consider their books not to be toys... and they should start consistantly testing all such publications in a laboratory such as all toys should be tested. As a good leading example, UK based publisher Working White clearly mentions online all the safety tests that their books go through to address their various markets.

Chinese workers are sick of making toxic cadmium batteries

Over the holidays, millions of American children received Chinese-made toys powered by cadmium batteries. Cadmium batteries are safe to use. They are also cheap, saving American parents about $1.50 on the average toy, compared with pricier batteries, but cadmium batteries can be hazardous to make as workers inhale the toxic red cadmium dust that filled the air in the plant.

As the U.S. and other Western nations tightened their regulation of cadmium, production of nickel-cadmium batteries moved to less-developed countries, most of it eventually winding up in China.

In America, five years after Hasbro stopped using nickel-cadmium batteries, Mattel and Toys "R" Us are yet to follow suit, but say they are exploring alternatives. Wal-Mart no longer purchases cadmium batteries from GP Batteries but declined to comment on whether it still uses them in its products.

Mattel says cadmium batteries have some performance advantages over alternatives, such as a better ability to retain a charge when not used for long periods.

Only this year, the European Union is banning the sale of nearly all cadmium batteries.

In China, government standards on cadmium exposure are in line with those endorsed by the World Health Organization. And without question, there are safe cadmium plants in China.

But having rules and enforcing them are two different things.

Source : The Wall Street Journal Asia

Thursday, January 17, 2008

DUNKIN' DONUTS : 1 million toys recalled due to strangulation hazards

Dunkin Donuts recalls 1 million glow-in-dark toys due to chocking and strangulations hazards.

DUNKIN' DONUTS : Toy recall button too small

When Planet Toys, Mattel or Moose Entertainment recalled toys in the past few months, they clearly labelled their home page to clearly warn customers by all means... but when Dunkin' Donuts needs to do the same, it seems they tried to hide the un-noticeable pink color button on the bottom left of their home page, hidden at the very bottom so that nobody clicks on it...

Can you spot the warning on this page ?

We will keep this post on this blog as long as Dunkin' Donuts keeps the warning visibility so low...

CANADA : www.healthycanadians.gc.ca

The Canadian Minister of Health, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, the Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board, and the Secretary of State today launched a centralized product safety website at www.healthycanadians.gc.ca allowing to search through product recalls dating back to 1995.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

CSI : Planet Toys issues statement about asbestos accusations

On January 15 2008, Planet Toys issued a statement on their website, claiming the absence of asbestos in the CSI toys samples they tested. Despite different findings, it is very possible that a set of toys did truly include asbestos while the next set was correctly manufactured. So far, Planet Toys did not disclose the name of the supplier which prevents doing any serious investigation in China about what really happened.

=============================================
PLANET TOYS STATEMENT :

Shortly before Thanksgiving a Seattle Washington newspaper published a story regarding a Consumer Awareness Organization the “Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization”-(ADAO) reporting their testing for asbestos and subsequent findings within selected products from several consumer products companies. Their random testing ranged from companies such as 3M, alleging asbestos content in some of their home improvement tape, to Planet Toys’ CSI Fingerprint kits, among others, which they further alleged, contained up to 7% asbestos in some of the powders.

Planet Toys, responded the next day contacting Paradigm Testing Laboratories in Rochester New York, per the suggestion of Bureau Veritas (BV), and conducted same day testing on 18 different samples of the fingerprint powder, all of which clearly stated “No Asbestos” detected. We then tested another 12 samples from the same lot that the ADAO tested-(Lot 100) claiming their findings of an asbestos content, here again Paradigm Labs confirmed “No Asbestos detected.”

Concurrently- with our testing above here in the U.S—Planet conducted a third test in China with a different laboratory once again stating “No Asbestos detected.” In the ensuing weeks leading up to this release, two prominent retailers, also conducted their own respective tests for the potential detection of asbestos and clearly stated “No Asbestos detected” in the testing of powders in Planet Toys’ CSI Fingerprint kits.

On Tuesday the 17th of December, Planet Toys flew to Oakland California to meet with the firm “Public Justice” who represents the ADAO. The purpose of this meeting was to disclose and share all testing methodologies respectively implemented via ADAO, and Planet Toys’ tests on the CSI Fingerprint kits. This meeting, albeit productive, still left a question mark as to how ADAO detected asbestos through one series of testing, while Planet Toys, and others having conducted nearly six independent tests for asbestos, all concluded “No Asbestos detected” in nearly 50 samples. As such, Planet Toys has issued a “stop sale” on all of our CSI Fingerprint kits until further information can be ascertained as to the discrepancy between our respective test findings.

On January the 8th we received findings again, from Paradigm Laboratories-after requesting further testing of more than a dozen samples from our CSI fingerprint kits be tested-to learn once again “No Asbestos Detected.” Planet Toys Voluntarily Issues a "Stop Sale" on CSI Fingerprint Examination Kit and Field Kit
=============================================

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

CHINA : 600 additional toy factories export licenses revoked


More than 600 additional Chinese toy factories have had their export licenses revoked in recent weeks to ensure product quality, the State Administration for Quality Supervision and Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) announced on Monday.

The government also brought together toy makers to brush up on their knowledge of international product standards and safety awareness.

To my opinion, this is a very good move from the Chinese authorities, but, still, some risk to see the "bad toys" from these factories on foreign markets still remains as the toy factories that get their export licence revoked cannot directly sell & ship toys to foreign clients, but they can still remain subcontractors for trading companies or for other toy factories that still have a valid export licence.

Monday, January 14, 2008

REGULATIONS : 7 new product types need an export licence in China

Seven new product types need the licenses, which have to be renewed every three years rather than the previous five years, said Li Qingxiang, the deputy director general of the Guangdong Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau.

"All the new toys will have to be inspected for safety and to make sure they reach the required standard before they can be produced and exported," he said, adding that the regulations could put upward pressure on manufacturing costs.

The new product types include video games and even stationery as China continues to crack down on unsafe goods after high-profile scares last year over millions of toys shipped to the U.S. and Europe.

MOVIES : Guidelines for PG-13 ratings to be reconsidered ?

The Federal Trade Commission is urging the Motion Picture Association of America to reconsider guidelines that allow some PG-13 movies to be marketed to young children, following a complaint by an advocacy group that the blockbuster film "Transformers" was inappropriately advertised to children as young as 2.

It also is urging toy manufacturers, fast-food chains and retailers to review how they sell movie-based toys to young children.

TOYS PRICES : 10% to 30% price increase in 2008 ?


Samson Chan, president of the Toy Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong, predicts widely divergent price increases ranging from 10% to 30% in the year ahead, depending on the type of toy.

HASBRO Chairman Urges Global Toy Safety Standards -FT

Asking "why can't we have one mandatory global safety standard for toys?" , Hasbro Inc. Chairman Alan Hassenfeld urged regulators to adopt common global toy safety standards.
"If we had one standard for the entire world everyone would cheer because we're so confused (by the competing standards) and it's a huge cost."

Hassenfeld, who is also leading an effort to implement uniform labor and workplace safety standards through the International Council of Toy Industries initiative called the CARE initiative, said companies couldn't evade responsibility for product recalls, especially those related to design problems.