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Gifts We Do Not Want This Christmas

By Kate Bell, Recall Consultant

Millions of us hit the shops for some last minute bargains over Christmas, making panic purchases in a bid to make our little loved ones smile.

Of course, when we buy presents for our nearest and dearest, our automatic thought process is not “is this product safe” – we take that as a given right because of course it’s safe. Surely it would not be on the shelves otherwise?

Sadly, that is not always the case. As recall experts, we know that toy recalls spike in the last quarter of every year as retailers compete to stock the top ten toys for that year.

An example of this can be seen in the last quarter of 2017, when we found that 12 countries across the EU had raised product recall alerts on 51 products relating to children’s toy dolls. In these instances, the dolls in question were manufactured in China and contained potentially harmful chemicals.

REACH, the regulator for chemicals coming into the EU, states that the chemical substances found within these particular toys – di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) or di-isononyl phthalate (DINP) – is prohibited in all toys and childcare items in the EU.

Chemical hazards in toys has been a leading cause for recall notifications for almost two years, and that is unlikely to change anytime soon unless the countries of origin take more responsibility.

That said, as consumers we can all take reassurance from the fact that these toys were recalled and did not make it into our living rooms. However, there are some unethical retailers who are willing to sell counterfeit children’s products to compete with the high street. And there also some well-intended retailers who are simply trying to meet customers’ expectations and as a result, are unknowingly putting their customers’ safety at risk.

In 2017, the British Toy and Hobby Association (BTHA) claimed that the influx of counterfeit goods was so great that trading standards seized tens of thousands of toys to prevent children coming into contact with them.

The industry body estimated that that 10-12 per cent of toys sold in the UK that year were fake. The knock on effect meant that toy sales dropped by almost 3percent – equating to a loss of £400m in sales.

The lesson here for retailers and consumers is to think before you buy. Check the label, the packaging and origin on the product. Reputation in retail is everything. Protect your reputation this Christmas by double checking your stock.

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