A stark warning has been issued to parents ahead of Christmas to shop carefully and avoid buying toys that may harm children, with hundreds of toys seized from Australian stores this year.
A shocking 368 unsafe toys have already been seized from shelves in the lead-up to Christmas due to small parts that pose a choking hazard to young children.
Toys recalled have included dolls with small and unsecured battery compartments and items that failed labelling standards.
“We want all Victorians to have a safe and happy Christmas, and Consumer Affairs inspectors have been out in force removing unsafe toys from shelves to ensure that happens,” Victorian Consumer Affairs Minister Melissa Horner said.
Consumer Affairs Victoria has powers to prosecute businesses who sell unsafe items, with penalties of up to $10m for traders who fail to meet their legal responsibilities.
In June 2020, In Touch Fashions & Gifts Pty Ltd trading as retail business In Touch Imports and its director agreed to pay a significant penalty after acknowledging they had offered items for sale that did not meet mandatory information standards.
In February 2019, court action by Consumer Affairs Victoria forced a company and its director to pay $415,000 in penalties, plus $15,000 in costs, for breaches of the Australian Consumer Law’s product safety provisions.
When on the lookout for toys, parents and carers have been told to look for toys suitable for a child’s age, avoid toys with sharp edges, points or splinters, and choose sturdy and well-made toys that can stand up to being bitten and tugged without falling apart.
Businesses are also encouraged to familiarise themselves with Victoria’s strict product safety laws to ensure they are doing everything they can to keep their consumers safe.
“The onus is on businesses to make sure they stock toys that meet mandatory safety standards, but I encourage everyone buying toys this Christmas to read warning labels and follow the safety instructions carefully,” Ms Horne said.
“Parents and carers can minimise the risk of buying unsafe products for their children by keeping toys designed for older children away from little ones and avoiding toys with removable parts, sharp edges, points or splinters.”