'Safety is our top priority' says BTHA

Industry trade body releases statement following second Mattel Chinese-made toy recall.
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The British Toy and Hobby Association has released a statement on its position following Mattel's second product recall yesterday of products made in China.

It said:

"The safety of children is the toy industry’s top priority. Stringent safety standards exist that ban the use of lead in toys. The use of leaded pigments has for many years been unheard of in the toy industry which relies heavily on Chinese toy factories in order to remain competitive.

China-supplied toys can be first-class in terms of quality and safety. China supplies at least 80 per cent of the world’s toys as well as being the manufacturing base for most consumer products. Its infrastructure is very good. Its problems should therefore be kept in perspective.

In general, toy manufacturers impose stringent controls on toy factories and their sub-contractors. Regular reviews of quality control methods take place, paints are screened, tested and often retested before use.

However, as two well-publicised cases recently demonstrated, - and the foot and mouth outbreak this weekend reinforces – even the best systems can break down. Breakdowns in quality and safety systems are not unique to China.

There is always a chance of human error but a system also has to be robust enough to find the cause and remedy the problem swiftly as has certainly been the case in the two instances referred to above.

The greatest threat to health and safety arises in two forms – first ill-informed importers who carelessly buy toys in China without carrying out prior risk assessments and having the toy’s compliance with toy regulations assessed by a suitably qualified expert organisation.

Secondly, ill-informed toy manufacturers in China who lack detailed knowledge of toy safety regulations. Steps to rectify this second matter have already been taken. It is expected that the 'Road map to safer toys' initiative signed between the EU and China in 2006 will improve awareness of EU toy safety regulations amongst Chinese manufacturers. Furthermore China has now been given access to information from the EU’s Rapid Alert System so as to deal with producers hit by RAPEX alerts.

Despite rapid growth in exports from China, the China’s proportion of RAPEX notifications of Chinese toys has in fact dropped

The UK and EU as a whole have effective systems in place where defective or unsafe products reach the market place."

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