Warning to parents as counterfeit toys flood the market
PARENTS have been warned to be wary of purchasing counterfeit Christmas toys that could be harmful to children.
The seasonal message to put safety first was issued last night as Customs officers disclosed they had seized almost 2,000 toys that had not been subjected to any regulations.
Officers made a total of 18 seizures, comprising 1,903 items with a retail value of about €37,410 over the past year.
The major risks from playing with unsafe toys involve choking and reactions to chemicals, such as lead.
Officers said the production of counterfeit goods was generally not subject to regulation.
One added: "At best, fake or counterfeit goods do not deliver the expected and promised results of genuine products while, at worst, they can carry health and safety risks."
One-third of this haul has been recovered since the start of September as unscrupulous dealers prepare to flood the Christmas market.
One of the seizures earlier in the year contained 384 sets of counterfeit Barbie Doll clothing, while other items included cars, Thomas the Tank Engines and Winnie the Pooh figures.
Also recovered were 643 school bags bearing trademarks such as Hello Kitty and Batman.
In the past few weeks, officers have also seized a haul of 700 fake Angry Bird chairs.
The seizures so far this year represent a massive increase on all of 2011 when officers found 430 counterfeit items, with a retail value of €11,000.
The National Consumer Agency (NCA) urged shoppers to make sure they observed age-suitability warnings.
It told consumers to check for the CE mark when buying toys as this meant they met European safety standards.
An EU-wide survey showed that the top 10 infant or child products resulting in injuries were: a swing or slide; a toy; changing table; tricycle; baby pram or buggy; high chair or booster seat; a cot, crib or baby bed; a baby walker; marbles or beads; and a tree house or playhouse.
An EU database indicated that about 180,000 children require emergency medical treatment each year for injuries linked to these products.
Consumers who encounter a toy that seems unsafe or does not have a CE mark should contact the retailer who sold it, and make a report to the NCA on 1890 432432.