Dangerous, recalled toys are easy to buy, U.S. PIRG Education Fund investigation shows

Media Contacts

CLEVELAND – 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 detailed in U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s 37th annual Trouble in Toyland report found that it’s easy to buy recalled toys, even though it’s illegal to sell them. When U.S. PIRG Education Fund tried last month to buy 16 recently recalled toys, the report authors were able to purchase half of them, sometimes in multiples. U.S. PIRG Education Fund also bought three other toys that were recalled during the last few years. Overall, the authors bought and received 11 different types of recalled toys, totaling more than 30 items, from U.S.-based online sellers including Facebook Marketplace and eBay, as well as several online toy shops. 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 ecommerce sites,” the CPSC told U.S. PIRG Education Fund. 

About 200,000 people go to an emergency room each year because of toy-related injuries or illnesses, according to the CPSC. Three-fourths are children 14 and younger. The threats to children include recalled toys, counterfeit toys that don’t meet U.S. safety standards and failure to heed warning labels. While U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s Trouble in Toyland reports have driven stricter toy safety regulation since the 1980s, there’s still lots of room for improvement. 

“Toys overall are safer today. Injuries and recalls are down. But when 150,000 kids are going to emergency rooms every year for injuries involving toys, that’s clearly unacceptable,” said U.S. PIRG Education Fund Consumer Watchdog Teresa Murray. “Everyone – retailers, toy manufacturers, regulators, lawmakers, consumer advocates and families – needs to do more to protect children.”

U.S. PIRG Education Fund is holding a virtual news conference to discuss the report on Thursday, Nov. 17 at 11 a.m. ET. The panel will discuss the dangers and offer helpful tips to protect children of all ages. Joining Teresa Murray, author of this year’s Trouble in Toyland report, will be:

  • Alexander Hoehn-Saric, chair, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Washington.
  • Sen. Richard Blumenthal, (CT), member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which works on safety of toys and other products.
  • Dr. Jerri Rose, emergency medicine pediatrician, University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, Cleveland.
  • Joan Lawrence, senior vice president of standards and regulatory affairs, The Toy Association, New York.
  • Dev Gowda, assistant executive director, Kids In Danger (KID), Chicago. 

Registration is required to attend the virtual news conference. Register here to join via Zoom.