Discovery of hazardous toys sparks safety alert

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 December, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 December, 2004, 12:00am

Parents planning a Christmas shopping spree have been warned to check the safety of toys that could cause minor burns or pose a choking hazard to children.

The warning came as the Customs and Excise Department announced it had found nine toys that failed to comply with safety requirements.

The department conducted 87 spot checks on the safety of Christmas toys at suppliers, with 13 samples tested for safety at a government laboratory.

The results showed that nine of the tested samples failed to comply with safety requirements pertaining to choking warnings, usage instructions and identification markings.

Among the problem toys, a battery-operated Santa had no markings indicating the required battery polarity and voltage.

'Incorrect use of batteries in toys might cause injury, such as minor burns caused by batteries overheating,' said Ng Hing-tong, of the department's Consumer Protection and Prosecution Bureau.

Two packets of balloons were found without choking hazard warnings.

Mr Ng said the department would ban sales of the problem toys and issue written warnings to the suppliers.

'Parents should be vigilant while choosing presents for their children during the festive season,' he said.

Mr Ng also warned that plastic bags used as packaging for many toys posed a risk of suffocation among children.

The department has conducted 1,039 spot checks on toy safety since last December.

During that period, it found 25 toys that failed to comply with requirements under the Toys and Children's Products Safety Ordinance and Regulation.

Three companies and one individual have been prosecuted.

In the run up to last Christmas, paint on a children's party set, including a mask and whistle, was found to have a lead content well in excess of acceptable limits.

The department said the set was not found to be on sale during the inspections carried out this year.