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BBB Warns on Toy Safety

Dec 2, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP Last year, over 20 million toys were involved in over 60 recalls, double the amount from the prior year, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is reporting on its Website  This year alone, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued over 50 toy recalls due to “lead poisoning, choking, burns, and other hazards,” said the BBB, which notes that while manufacturers have stepped up testing efforts, unsafe toys remain on U.S. store shelves and, worse, says the CPSC, less than 20 percent of all recalled toys ever reach the manufacturer for “disposal or repair.”

Now, the BBB has posted suggestions to help spot unsafe toys before shopping and after an unsafe toy has been bought.  “We don’t expect to see the same number of recalls that we did in 2007, but that doesn’t mean every toy unwrapped over the holidays is appropriate and safe.  Fortunately, there are a few easy guidelines that parents and gift givers can follow to ensure that the toys they spend so much time selecting and purchasing this year are safe,” Steve Cox, BBB spokesperson stated on the site.  BBB offers the following this holiday season:

Before Shopping:  Take a look at the CPSC’s Website, where a list of recalled toys can be found.  The CPSC and BBB strongly suggest signing up for the CPSC’s email notifications at to receive real-time information on recalls.  The BBB also indicated that the Toy Industry Association lists detailed information, with photographs, on toy recalls at:

Shopping Advice:  The BBB notes that larger retailers tend to quickly remove recalled toys from store shelves, often flagging bar codes in the event a recalled item makes it to a cashier, who can then stop the sale.  Unfortunately, while online auction sites or bulletin boards may have policies against selling such toys, it is here where toys often make it into consumers’ homes say researchers from the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Columbus Children’s Hospital, according to the BBB.

If In Possession of a Recalled Toy:  The BBB said that the CPSC works with toy manufacturers to issue refunds or exchanges and the CPSC Website provides resolution and instruction details.  The BBB also indicated that consumers can work with the store from where the toy was originally purchased to resolve a recalled toy issue; however, it is important to note that when dealing with individual retailers and not the toy manufacturer, store policies might differ.

Lead:  Toys containing lead amounts in excess of federal standards are not always easy to spot, but are certainly dangerous, warns the BBB.  The CPSC notes, says the BBB, that at-home lead-level testing kits are not accurate and suggests concerned parents speak to their pediatrician regarding blood testing.

Injury:  If a child becomes injured by a potentially faulty or toxic toy, the BBB says in addition to contacting a doctor, parents can reach the CPSC hotline at (800) 638-2772.

Age-Appropriate Toys:  The BBB reminds shoppers to always look at the toy’s age on the product’s packaging; keep younger children away from older siblings’ toys.

Toy Recall Hotlines:  The BBB provided the following hotlines for the CPSC:  800-638-2772; the Toy Industry Association: 888-888-4TOYS; Mattel:  800-916-4498; Fisher-Price: 800-991-2444; and Toys R Us: 800-869-7787.

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