CHILDREN in Hong Kong were less at risk from dangerous toys now that a new safety law was taking effect, the Customs and Excise Department said yesterday.
Ten toy suppliers are being prosecuted under the Toys and Children's Products Safety Ordinance which took effect in July.
They face a fine of $100,000 and one year's imprisonment if convicted.
Speaking at the International Toy Seminar at the Sheraton hotel yesterday, the head of the Trading Standards Investigation Bureau, Andrew Wong Ching-wai, said the toy industry had acted on the new law.
Mr Wong said: ''The objective of the ordinance is to improve standards of toy safety in Hong Kong and I believe manufacturers and importers have already taken notice of the new requirements.
''Although we will have to wait a little longer to find out just how effective the law has been, I believe that many dangerous toys have now been removed from the market.'' A spokesman for the Consumer Council said it was difficult to judge the effectiveness of the legislation because it had always received very few complaints about unsafe toys.
The spokesman said: ''Many injuries caused by toys are not reported to us and so it is impossible to indicate whether there are fewer dangerous toys on the market than before.'' The Customs and Excise Department has formed a special unit of 11 officers which has spent the past three months visiting stores and seizing toys identified as unsafe by the Consumer Council.
The Consumer Council spokesman added: ''We are encouraged by the action of the Customs and Excise Department but we will continue to test products for safety.'' Before the legislation came into effect there was no control on the supply of unsafe toys in Hong Kong, and the territory was used as a dumping ground for toys which had failed to comply with other countries' safety requirements.
The new law protects children from potentially dangerous toys, including those with sharp edges and toys with parts which could be swallowed.
Despite the new legislation, a sample of 72 toys by the Consumer Council in July this year found that six contravened the new safety ordinance.
These included baby rattles and other items designed for toddlers.
But using the new regulations, the toymakers and their agents were advised to improve their products.
and introduce pre-sale testing.