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Most children's toys unsafe, consumer watchdog reveals

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Most children's toys unsafe, consumer watchdog reveals
This monkey failed the test after catching fire almost immediately. Photo: DPA
15:44 CEST+02:00
As retailers prepare for the Christmas shopping season, Germany's top consumer watchdog Stiftung Warentest on Thursday revealed that 80 percent of children's toys tested by the organisation posed health risks to children, regardless of their price.

“The results are frightening and should disturb parents,” said Hubertus Primus, the independent organisation's publishing director.

Some of the toys failed to fulfil safety requirements, and seven of the 50 toys included in the test section for children under three should never have been sold, Primus said.

The country of origin played no role in the safety of the toys, he added.

“'Made in Germany' is not better than 'Made in China',” he said.

And wooden toys, often touted as a safer, more natural alternative to synthetic products, were also found to be lacking. In fact, six of the eight toys with the best results were made of plastic.

Name brand toys weren't much better, Stiftung Warentest found. Brands such as Brio, Eichhorn, Fisher Price, Plan Toys, Selecta, sigikid and Steiff, all highly regarded by parents, were included in the test. But none of the toys marketed as “natural” was found to be free of toxic substances.

Substances found in the toys included those suspected of causing cancer, damaging genetic make-up or causing infertility. Children can easily ingest these substances through breathing or contact with their skin or mouth.

Meanwhile seals of approval were found to be unreliable, study leader Holger Brackemann said. Even toys bearing the coveted inspection association TÜV's seal did not pass the organisation's safety requirements. A toy horse had parts small enough for children to swallow, and a plush monkey caught fire much sooner than national safety regulations allow.

Dangerous chemicals were found on two other plush toys. One of them, a stuffed rabbit, contained lead. Researchers also found carcinogenic dye on a teddy bear. The manufacturers have since taken the toys off the market, Brackemann said.

Substances found in the toys included those suspected of causing cancer, damaging genetic make-up or causing infertility. Children can easily ingest these substances through breathing or contact with their skin or mouth.

The organisation recommended that parents double check new toys for small parts and strong smells before purchasing them, adding that dolls are safest when made of fabric.

DAPD/DPA/ka

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