Dangerous, recalled toys are easy to buy, CALPIRG Education Fund investigation shows

Media Contacts
Sander Kushen

Public Health Advocate, CALPIRG Education Fund

California – Safety standards for toys are, as they should be, high. But children are exposed to potentially dangerous products when adults can still easily purchase recalled toys.

An investigation by CALPIRG Education Fund found that when trying last month to buy 16 recently recalled toys, CALPIRG representatives were able to purchase half of them, sometimes in multiples. Overall, we bought and received 11 different types of recalled toys, totaling more than 30 toys, from U.S.-based online sellers including Facebook Marketplace and eBay, as well as several online toy shops. Eight of the 11 toys had been recalled this year; three were recalled during the last few years. The toys included stuffed animals, action figures, activity balls for infants, musical toys, bath toys and a toddler’s riding toy. The vast majority were new in the box or new with tags. 

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is trying to crack down on this threat and sent a warning letter to Facebook/Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg in July. “We are aware of the growing challenges with these kinds of e-commerce sites,” the CPSC told CALPIRG Education Fund. 

About 200,000 children go to an emergency room each year because of toy-related injuries or illnesses, according to the CPSC. The threats to children include recalled toys, counterfeit toys that don’t meet U.S. safety standards and failure to heed warning labels. We look at all of these issues and more in our 37th annual Trouble in Toyland report. Our Toyland reports have helped shape toy safety regulation since the 1980s. 

“Toys overall are safer today. Injuries and recalls are down. But when 200,000 kids are going to emergency rooms every year for injuries involving toys, that’s clearly unacceptable,” said CALPIRG Education Fund Consumer Advocate Sander Kushen. “Everyone – toy manufacturers, retailers, regulators, consumer advocates and families – needs to do more to protect children.”

“Children tend to put anything and everything in their mouths,” said Colleen Corrigan, the Peter Harbage Fellow with the children’s advocacy group Children Now. “That can include toys that have been imported and do not meet safety requirements, toys with lead in the plastic coatings, or toys that are listed on Recalls.gov.”

“While holiday shopping season is an exciting time for many families, it’s also when parents need to be extra vigilant about the types of toys that are being brought into the home,” said Dr. Helen Arbogast, Manager of Injury Prevention at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “The perfect toy for a child is age appropriate and stored safely; we want to make sure parents know what red flags to look out for and how to avoid preventable toy-related injuries.”

View CALPIRG Education Fund’s Toy safety tips for Children of all ages here.


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