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Office of Competition and Consumer Protection

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Toys without toxins - joint campaign by UOKiK, Trade Inspection Authority and Customs Service

< previous | next > 28.02.2018

Toys without toxins - joint campaign by UOKiK, Trade Inspection Authority and Customs Service
  • Nearly 1.5 million toys have been inspected, with 700,000 out of them questioned and 30,000 destroyed - these are the results of a joint campaign conducted by UOKiK and the National Fiscal Administration.
  • Customs officers, supported by the Trade Inspection Authority and specialized laboratories, verified whether dolls, balls and teethers imported from outside the EU do not contain excessive quantities of toxic phthalates.
  • Similar activities were also undertaken - upon the initiative of Poland - by other Visegrad Group countries.

It is the first campaign in which Visegrad Group countries (Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia) have jointly declared war on dangerous toys imported from outside the EU. The idea was first conceived in Poland at the end of 2016. As a result, various services and offices from all four countries joined their forces in an effort to prevent toys that contain excessive quantities of phthalates - substances chemical that are hazardous to human health - from entering the EU market. In Poland, the campaign that was conducted in September and October 2017, was a joint effort of the National Fiscal Administration (KAS), the Trade Inspection Authority (IH) and the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK).

Cooperation between various institutions is necessary in order for the state to operate as a whole. We were all driven by our concern for the safety of children. It is a great satisfaction that our joint actions will prevent toys that could be harmful to children’s health from getting in their hands” - says Marek Niechcia³, President of UOKiK.

The inspections were conducted at the border. Thanks to such an approach, the dangerous products have failed to make it to the Polish retail market.

Dangerous phthalates

The inspectors were focusing their sights on phthalates. The compounds are esters of phthalic acid and are used to soften plastic and make it more flexible. Toys must not contain more than 0.1% of phthalates. Higher concentrations of those compounds are dangerous for human health - they may cause fertility disorders, damage kidneys or liver, result in the development of asthma, or even various types of cancer.

Phthalates are most commonly found in soft, plastic toys - dolls, rubber animals for bathing, ponies and unicorns, carnival masks, balls, jumping ropes, teethers, rattles and cars with soft tires. Parents have no way of recognizing themselves how high the content of those dangerous esters is. To do so, tests performed at specialized laboratories are necessary.

Campaign results

During the campaign, Polish customs officers inspected nearly 1.5 million toys undergoing customs clearance at the border. If anything seemed to be suspicious, the case was referred to the Trade Inspection Authority. The latter has issued the total of
58 opinions, with as many as 49 out of them being negative. As a result, approximately 700,000 toys have not been allowed to enter the Polish market. Some of them lacked the required documentation or labelling, which meant that no evidence could be produced confirming that the safety requirements in effect in the EU are met.

Upon consultation with Trade Inspection Authority Inspectors, KAS officers were electing plastic toys for testing, in order to identify their phthalate content. In total, 55 samples have been tested, with 11 of them verified at UOKiK’s Specialized Textile Product and Instrumental Analysis Laboratory in £ód¼. It turned out that the permissible content levels were exceeded in 25 samples (all of them originating from China). In several cases, the actual values were several times higher than the permitted content. For instance, in the head of one of the dolls from the “Sweet girl” kit tested at the UOKiK laboratory, the content of phthalates equalled as much as 29%. The customs officers destroyed all toys (30,000 pieces) that contained excessive qualities of dangerous esters. Furthermore, UOKiK has reported 10 toys containing phthalates to the EU RAPEX system used by
EU Member States to warn each other about dangerous products. Once relevant documentation is received from KAS, 15 more toys will be reported in the same manner as well.

Activities are not performed at the border only

Acting to the order of UOKiK, the Trade Inspection Authority is making sure, every single day, that the toys offered for sale on the Polish market are safe for their users. Over the past five years (2013-2017), the UOKiK laboratory in £ód¼ tested 813 toy samples, and identified excessive phthalate content in 230 (approx. 28%) of them. For instance,
a rubber dinosaur contained as much as 46% of those compounds, and a Pegasus horse with a doll - approximately 37%.

In 2012 and 2013 UOKiK issued 142 decisions concerned with toys containing phthalates. It has contributed to withdrawing, from retail trade, over 74,500 products that were dangerous for the health of children.

Additional information for the media:

UOKiK Press Office
Pl. Powstańców Warszawy 1, 00-950 Warszawa
Phone: 695 902 088
Email: [SCODE]Yml1cm9wcmFzb3dlQHVva2lrLmdvdi5wbA==[ECODE]
Twitter: @UOKiKgovPL

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