31st Annual Survey Finds Recalled Toys in Online Stores

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Abe Scarr

State Director, Illinois PIRG; Energy and Utilities Program Director, PIRG

Consumers should watch out for recalled toys still in homes

Illinois PIRG Education Fund

Some toys that have been recalled for lead, powerful magnets, or other hazards may still be available for sale in online stores, according to Illinois Public Interest Research Group Education Fund’s 31st annual Trouble in Toyland report. The survey of potentially hazardous toys found that consumers should be wary when shopping this holiday season.

The report lists toys recalled by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) from January 2015 to October 2016 with the message to consumers that these recalled toys may still be in homes. For large items such as cars, when they get recalled, owners will usually be contacted immediately through VIN numbers. However, that’s not the case with toy recalls.

“We should be able to trust that the toys we buy are safe. However, until that’s the case, consumers should understand two things: first, not all recalls may be well-publicized so you should check your house for previously recalled toys and second, some toys that are recalled may still be available online,” said Abraham Scarr, Director of Illinois PIRG Education Fund.

For over 30 years, the Illinois PIRG Education FundTrouble in Toyland report has offered safety guidelines for purchasing toys for small children. Over the years, our reports have led to over 150 recalls and other enforcement actions.

“As the holiday gift-giving season begins, parents want to make sure that the products that end up in children’s hands are safe.” Said Rep. Jan Schakowsky “Since the passage of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act eight years ago, we’ve made great strides in making our children’s toys safer. We have significantly reduced the presence of hazardous chemicals in toys and we’ve increased testing to stop dangerous products from ever reaching store shelves. But our work is not done yet. That’s why I am happy to join Illinois PIRG, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Lurie Children’s Hospital, and Kids in Danger once again for this important annual tradition.”

“As a parent, I know there are always dangers, including plenty of things in your home that could put your child at risk,” Attorney General Lisa Madigan said. “That’s why my office releases a Safe Shopping Guide every year to detail all of the recalled toys and children’s products from the past year so parents and caregivers can remove items that should never have been in their homes in the first place.”

Some of the recalled toys that our researchers found were still available for sale at online stores include:

  • A toy glockenspiel which was recalled in February 2016 due to high levels of lead in the paint. If the paint is ingested lead can cause adverse health effects.
  • A remote-controlled flying toy which was recalled in June 2016. The toy’s USB charging cord can overheat, posing a hazard.
  • A pencil case’s two magnets that hold the case lid closed can detach, posing an ingestion hazard. If these two magnets are swallowed, they can link together inside a child’s intestines and result in serious internal injuries.

“Choking is a leading cause of injury and death among children aged 3 years or younger. Food, coins, and toys are the primary causes of choking-related injury and death,” said Elizabeth Powell, MD, MPH, Emergency Medicine, Lurie Children’s Hospital.

Read our full report which includes a full list of recalled toys, those that we found available for sale online, as well as specific information including manufacturers’ names, pictures, and remedies for what consumers should do if they have the recalled toys in their homes.

It is illegal to sell a recalled product under CPSC rules. We have notified the CPSC about these potentially illegal sales and have asked them to investigate these toys further and take appropriate action.

The CPSC should improve recall effectiveness by:

  • Engaging in efforts to increase consumer and researcher awareness of the public hazard database SaferProducts.gov.
  • Aggressively seeking to increase recall effectiveness by making sellers agree to conduct more effective outreach campaigns that stress the real hazard posed, rather than simply promoting the purported good will of the firm.
  • Performing regular online sweeps checking for the availability of previously-recalled toys.
  • Holding companies reselling recalled products accountable, which will also send a message to others.

Parents and caregivers can also take steps to protect children from potential hazards. We recommend that parents:

  • Subscribe to email recall updates from the CPSC and other U.S. government safety agencies available at www.recalls.gov.
  • Shop with U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s Toy Safety Tips, available at toysafetytips.org.
  • Examine toys carefully for hazards before purchase – and don’t trust that they are safe just because they are on a store shelf. Check the CPSC recall database at CPSC.gov before buying toys online.
  • Report unsafe toys or toy-related injuries to the CPSC at Saferproducts.gov.
  • Remember, toys on our list are presented as examples of previously recalled toys only. Other hazards may exist.
  • Review the recalled toys list in this report and compare it to toys in your children’s toy boxes.
  • Put small parts, or toys broken into small parts, out of reach. Regularly check that toys appropriate for your older children are not left within reach of children who still put things in their mouths.

Over the past eight years, stronger rules have helped get some of the most dangerous toys and children’s products off the market. Rules put in place by the 2008 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act tightened lead limits and phased out dangerous phthalates.

Kids In Danger has been following recalled products for over a decade.  A strong new mandatory toy standard has reduced toy recalls and the hazards they pose to our children,” stated Nancy Cowles, Executive Director of KID. “Now we must work just as hard to increase the effectiveness of those recalls and get dangerous toys out of homes and off store shelves and online sites.”