Living up to 'Made in China' standards

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 February, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 February, 2006, 12:00am

WITH MAINLAND factories producing up to 90 per cent of the world's toys, parents all over the world are familiar with the 'Made in China' label.

What could cause concern, though, is how quality control (QC) procedures in China compare with those in the rest of the world. According to Rhys Bradley, head of regional sales and merchandising for Toys R Us Asia, there is little need to worry.

Regulations are strict across the board, with 95 per cent of the QC standards being the same internationally. The 5 per cent difference depends on the categorisation of products.

In any case, it is the importing country which stipulates quality and testing standards.

New European Union standards relating to the chemical composition of toys are forcing factories in China to adopt more environmentally friendly practices.

Pierre Papworth, international sales and marketing director for Manley Toys, said: 'Chinese companies are not dumb. They will comply with the requirements or lose business.'

The United States, Japan and the EU set the benchmark for safety, and QC officers have clearly documented requirements to follow.

Hermann Haas, senior quality control officer for Manley Toys, said: 'In Europe, all products must meet CE [Conformite Europeene] standards. The US market requires ASTM [American Society for Testing and Materials] approval, though Asia usually follows the CE guidelines.'

QC officers in the mainland factories check everything, from the raw material stage to the production lines up to the point where goods are loaded for shipment.

'Checks also ensure that the factory is managed well, hygiene and environmental standards are respected and no child labour is used,' Mr Bradley said.

As in Hong Kong, the custom officers on the mainland are responsible for implementing a toy ordinance.

Raymond Lam Wai-keung, Asia vice-president for Bureau Veritas, said: 'They [custom officials] take one toy and test it at their lab. If the toy fails, they are responsible for recalling the product. They can also sue the company.'

With so much international attention on safety, government-imposed standards in Europe and Asia are gradually converging.

The insistence on having stringent checks has also resulted in very few toy recalls taking place.