Government issues toy safety warnings to parents ahead of Sinterklaas

Government issues toy safety warnings to parents ahead of Sinterklaas
A child receiving toys from Sint Nicolas (Sinterklaas) on 6 December. Credit: Belga/ Virginie Lafour

With Sinterklaas on Tuesday and Christmas at the end of the month, many children are spoiled with gifts at this time of year. However, a recent inspection by the FPS Economy has shown that they may not always be safe.

An inspection of 20 toys for children under the age of three that were supposedly safe to put in the mouth found that 18 articles did not comply with the safety requirements.

Four even posed a serious risk to the health of children as the maximum limits for certain chemical substances were surpassed.

"The four toys that exceeded the limit values for chemicals posed a serious risk. Therefore, the FPS Economy sent out warnings at the European level. The articles were withdrawn from the market and recalled from consumers," the report read.

Chemical and administrative checks

The campaign specifically focused on checking compliance with limit values for certain chemicals including phosphate derivatives (carcinogenic), bisphenol A (which can affect a child's behaviour and brain development) and formamide (can cause damage to organs through prolonged exposure and can irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract).

It also assessed the administrative requirements and certain parts of the technical documentation, namely the safety assessment, the list of components and materials used, the CE mark (showing it complies with the EU safety directive for toys, which is mandatory) and test reports.

The most common mistakes concerned incorrect technical documentation, including that the address of the manufacturer was not indicated on the toy or that the warning "Not suitable for children under 3 years" was added incorrectly.

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The government agency noted that it was actively looking for toys suspected to be non-compliant, meaning the sampling was not representative of the Belgian market, but that parents should pay attention when buying toys.

It stressed that people should never buy toys without a CE mark, check that small parts cannot become detached (if they do, they can cause chocking), read the instructions and warnings to make sure the toy is suitable for the child's age, and always buy toys from reliable shops and webshops.


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