Trouble in Toyland: 36th Annual Toy Safety Report finds counterfeit toys evade safety rules

The NCPIRG Education Funds 36th Annual Toy Safety Report is calling attention to dangerous and counterfeit toys ahead of the holiday gift giving season.

This year's report focuses on seven common hazards found in toys sold both in stores and, increasingly, online. Counterfeit items are a big concern as more and more shoppers turn to online shopping in the pandemic.

Many knockoff items don't meet safety standards, are mislabeled, and often miss warning posing dangers to children.

"For example, just last month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials in Baltimore seized toys from China including 295 packages of Lagori Seven Stones, a popular children's game," said Belle LaMontagne of NCPIRG. "Lab tests by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission showed the toys had chemicals that exceeded safe levels for consumers."

As more and more consumers turn to online shopping, NCPIRG offers tips on what to look out for:

  • Knockoff toys: Scrutinize the seller, reviews and the price. Toys that are significantly less expensive than they should be could be counterfeits.
  • Second-hand toys: When shopping online for second-hand toys, check out saferproducts.gov to find out about any past recalls.
  • Toys kids might swallow: Households with small children should not have high-powered magnets. With toys that have button/coin batteries, check that the battery compartment has a screw and is child proof.
  • Choking hazard: Use a toilet paper tube to test small parts in the home. And check whether toys are broken, especially if they will be used by or be around a child under the age of 3.
  • Noisy toys: If a toy you're considering buying sounds loud, don't buy it. If you already have a noisy toy at home that you're concerned may be too loud, you can take the batteries out so it doesn't make noise or put duct tape over the speaker to stifle the sound.
  • Smart toys: Before buying a smart toy, read its description to understand what technology it uses and how your child will interact with it. It's a good idea to search the toy's name and the manufacturer online to see if either have sparked any privacy concerns.
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