News item

Fake Frozen dolls containing harmful chemicals seized

Warwickshire County Council’s trading standards service was able to seize a number of fake and dangerous ‘Frozen’ dolls, before they reached the shop shelves.

Trading standards officers, working alongside the UK Border Force identified the suspect Chinese imports of ‘Frozen’ dolls and seized them before they could go on sale to the public.

Tests on the fake products also revealed that they contained phthalates, chemicals harmful to children.

Warwickshire County Councillor Les Caborn, portfolio holder for community safety said: “Warwickshire trading standards service has been working for some time with the UK Border Force to identify both counterfeit and potentially dangerous consumer products.”

“Our goal has to be to ensure that illegal consumer goods do not make their way in to the shops and in particular, to protect children.”

Warwickshire County Councillor Richard Chattaway, chair of the council’s overview and scrutiny committee, added: “Product safety is one of Warwickshire trading standards key responsibilities, helping to ensure that goods in our shops and on our markets are safe to use.”

Phthalates are used to soften plastics. Children chewing toys containing phthalates can lead to them to ingest the chemical, exposure to which has been linked to damage to the reproductive system and an increased risk of cancer and asthma.

Warwickshire trading standards is advising consumers to always look for the highly distinctive Disney logo which is present on all licensed Disney merchandise when purchasing Frozen merchandise. This logo did not appear on the counterfeit/copycat versions seized by trading standards officers

Across the CenTSA (central England trading standards authorities) region trading standards officers recently carried out tests for phthalates on dolls seized on import or purchased from shops and markets.

Test revealed that 20% of dolls contained higher than permitted levels of these chemicals (0.1% of the plastic material present). In three cases phthalates were 30% higher than permitted levels and in the worst case, 51% higher. Further investigations are now on-going.

Seven of the dolls also failed to meet toy safety labelling requirements.

The trading standards teams that purchased dolls which failed are now working to ensure that these are removed from sale.

A range of dolls costing different prices were tested. Those that failed were extremely cheap, suggesting that there is more likely to be a problem with cheap dolls manufactured with the emphasis on low unit costs rather than consumer safety.

For more information on toy safety and counterfeit goods, visit our website: www.warwickshire.gov.uk/tradingstandards

Consumers can report toys and other goods they have concerns about to Warwickshire trading standards via the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 040506.

Notes

1) The following CenTSA trading standards authorities participated in the project: Coventry, Dudley, Herefordshire, Sandwell, Solihull, Stoke, Telford, Walsall, Warwickshire and Wolverhampton.

2) Phthalates are used to soften plastics. If a child chews a toy containing them it can absorb them through its mouth. There is evidence that phthalates can lead to damage to the reproductive system and an increased risk of cancer and asthma. The maximum level of 6 specified phthalates is therefore legally limited to no more than 0.1% by mass of the plasticised material in toys. 

Non compliance is a breach of the requirements of EC Regulation 1907/2006 concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) and hence the Toys (Safety) Regulations 2011.

3) The impact of exposure to phthalates is likely to occur in the longer term and whilst children may be exposed to the chemicals it is unlikely to be reported by the parents because no immediate effect on the child will be observed.

4) It is not possible for trading standards officers to visually inspect toys for the presence of phthalates. The only realistic means of determining compliance levels is through analytical testing of products available on the market. The testing of these products was conducted by Staffordshire Scientific Services at Staffordshire county council.

5) ‘CEnTSA’ stands for ‘central England trading standards authorities’. It is the regional partnership body that represents the fourteen local authority trading standards services of across the West Midlands region. Its website can be found at:

https://centsa.org.uk/

ENDS

DATE: 8 January 2015