Made In China Informative - Toys Made In China - what to look for
Any parent watching the news these days is understandably concerned about toys bearing the 'Made In China' label. Given a manufacturing labor pool of 1.3 billion people, it is not surprising that most imports come from China. This makes calls for a Chinese 'boycott' not only reactionary, but unproductive (one of the recent, large recalls concerned toys made in Mexico). There are however, proactive measures parents can take when visiting their favorite retailers this holiday season:
1. Flip the box around: Check out the safety marks. Small parts can create a choking hazard. Small magnets can, when swallowed, cause fatal infections in young children. These warnings will be marked on the box (sometimes on the back). Trust the warnings - even if you cannot see pieces small enough to choke a child, perhaps a lab test showed some components may break into smaller ones, hence the danger. Note - the ingestible magnet warning may not appear on older packaging, so exercise caution with regard to magnets and small children.
2. Apply the age warnings to an entire household:
If you buy a toy for a six year old with a two year old sibling; the two year old may likely come in contact with it. OCD aside, kids leave toys out, so keep this in mind.
3. From CE to shining CE: As one might expect, toy safety regulations in Europe are much more strict than those in the U.S. - and American consumers can take advantage of this. Toys imported into Europe and the U.K (make up your mind, Brits), must be tested to the EN-71 standard (and others, as applicable). When a toy passes, the packaging bears a stylish 'CE'. When you see a toy on the shelves bearing a CE mark, that indicates it can be imported into Europe (and has passed EN-71 standards).
4. Just Ask: Not the store clerk, rather the manufacturers themselves. When at the store, write down the product name and company website (on the packaging). Email them, asking if the product has passed ASTM and EN-71 tests. Allow a few days during the holiday season for a personal, product-specific request to be answered and do not ask to see the actual test report (which contains confidential factory and material information, of interest to competitors).
5. O Christmas Tree: Artificial trees are great.
No need to worry about spiders, squirrels and the like. A tree bought and assembled recently contained a lead paint warning in the instructions, with the directive to wash hands after touching. What about kids who, even if informed, may easily forget to wash their hands after touching the tree?
Hey - if all else fails, go down to a shipping place and get a large box and some bubble wrap. Makes the perfect gift for adults, kids and pets.