(COLORADO) — In the 37th edition of Trouble in Toyland, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) has shed light on the issues of toy safety and how some recalled toys are being sold illegally.
U.S. PIRG said the organization is focused on “Recalled toys that can still be purchased – brand new – days, weeks, months or years after they were deemed dangerous.”
Another area the organization is focusing on is the role of parents and caregivers in keeping children safe. U.S. PIRG warns that numerous injuries are caused by toys that haven’t been recalled, but must be played with as intended.
The holiday season offers opportunities for recalled toys to be resold or inappropriately sold via third parties like Facebook Marketplace or through retailers who aren’t being diligent about pulling them.
U.S. PIRG lists these reasons why injuries and illnesses can occur:
- Toys don’t meet standards, such as if they have parts that can easily be removed or fall off and be ingested.
- Children get access to a toy not meant for a child their age, such as a small bouncy ball or building blocks.
- Children use a toy in a way that wasn’t intended.
- Counterfeit toys are purchased, sometimes by shoppers who actually know they’re knockoffs.
- Toys violate our children’s privacy.
“We are aware of the growing challenges with these kinds of ecommerce sites,” the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC) told U.S. PIRG Education Fund. In the past year, the CSPC expanded its eCommerce, Surveillance, Analysis, Field, and Enforcement (eSAFE) Team and made more than 54,000 internet site takedown requests. The expansion helped the CPSC take “appropriate enforcement actions to address hazardous products on eCommerce platforms.”
The U.S. PIRG has these recommendations to improve child safety where toys are concerned:
- Congress should pass the INFORM Consumers Act, which was introduced last year. The goal: Stop sales of stolen, counterfeit or dangerous consumer products, including toys. The Integrity, Notification, and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces Act would require online merchants to collect, verify and disclose certain information from high-volume, third-party sellers.
- Toy manufacturers should make a commitment to do a better job of adhering to existing toy safety standards and improving testing.
- Merchants, both brick-and-mortar stores and online platforms, should do more to prevent recalled toys and counterfeit/knockoff toys from being sold.
- The CPSC should step up enforcement and impose meaningful penalties against merchants that sell counterfeit or recalled toys.
- The CPSC should continue to research the risks of phthalates and other toxics. “We’ve passed strong rules to keep lead and phthalates out of toys,” CSPC Commissioner Richard Trumka said. ”We should pass more strong rules to protect kids from other hazards. The problem is, there are more toxic chemicals out there than we know about,” he said. “It should be incumbent on companies not to use chemicals in products unless they know they’re safe. But until they fix the problem themselves, CPSC will be here to hold them accountable.”
- Other battery manufacturers should consider making “bitter batteries,” as Duracell does, by coating button or coin-sized batteries with a foul-tasting substance to discourage children from putting them in their mouth or swallowing them.
The CSPC has a recall search where parents and caregivers can check the toys they have or may be looking to buy.