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Pushchairs and child car seats among unsafe products destined for sale online

PUBLISHED: 06:28 19 August 2019 | UPDATED: 06:29 19 August 2019

Port of Felixstowe  Picture: STEPHEN WALLER

Port of Felixstowe Picture: STEPHEN WALLER

© 2012 Stephen Waller

Almost a million potentially hazardous products - including unsafe child car seats due for sale on Amazon - have been seized at the Port of Felixstowe in the last year.

Figures for 2018/19 show 996,143 items across 670 product lines were targeted, assessed and detained by the Trading Standards Imports Team.

Officials estimate the value to society of removing the unsafe goods from the supply chain at £23million.

Richard Rout, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for environment and public protection  Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCILRichard Rout, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for environment and public protection Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

Detained items - many destined for sale via third parties on online marketplaces - included toys, baby carriers, pushchairs, child car seats, laser pointers, electric scooters, electric hot plates and food processors.

The baby carriers arrived with an easily detachable label, considered a choking hazard, and leg openings wide enough for a baby to fall out.

Items came with a two-pin plug and a three-pin adapter for the UK market  Picture: SUFFOLK TRADING STANDARDSItems came with a two-pin plug and a three-pin adapter for the UK market Picture: SUFFOLK TRADING STANDARDS

Four in five of the UK's consumer goods arrive in the UK by a container - half via the busiest entry point of its kind in the country, the Port of Felixstowe.

Items recently seized at the port have included 1,000 hotplates, 60 baby carriers, and 100 push chairs and child car seats.

A thousand hotplates were detained due to an unsafe adapter  Picture: SUFFOLK TRADING STANDARDSA thousand hotplates were detained due to an unsafe adapter Picture: SUFFOLK TRADING STANDARDS

Although the hotplates were safe to be used in Europe, an adapter provided for the two-pin plug failed regulations and posed a risk of harm to the user.

Rather than send the consignment back to China, or have it destroyed, the team agreed to oversee the removal of the unsafe adapter from all products, which were then seized.

Between April and August this year, the team has targeted and assessed 146 different product lines – finding 73% to be unsafe or non-compliant  Picture: SUFFOLK TRADING STANDARDSBetween April and August this year, the team has targeted and assessed 146 different product lines – finding 73% to be unsafe or non-compliant Picture: SUFFOLK TRADING STANDARDS

A sample test from a consignment of 60 baby found one of the labels easily detached, making it a choking hazard, while the leg opening was wide enough for a baby to fall out.

The seizure was referred to the Manchester based importer's local Trading Standards department.

Sixty baby carriers failed because of a choke hazard  Picture: SUFFOLK TRADING STANDARDSSixty baby carriers failed because of a choke hazard Picture: SUFFOLK TRADING STANDARDS

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The car seats and strollers, due for sale on Amazon, failed visual inspections, had no English instructions, and did not meet basic safety requirements.

Leg openings were too wide and unsafe on the baby carriers  Picture: SUFFOLK TRADING STANDARDSLeg openings were too wide and unsafe on the baby carriers Picture: SUFFOLK TRADING STANDARDS

Suffolk County Council is among the few authorities to host a dedicated Imports Team - directly funded by National Trading Standards.

As well as rooting out unsafe items, the team aims to protect legitimate businesses trying to compete on a level playing field.

Richard Rout, the council's head of environment and public protection, said: "The Imports Team plays a vital role at the Port of Felixstowe.

"Their work not only protects the people of Suffolk, but everyone in the UK, by preventing unsafe items finding their way into the supply chain.

"Just from these recently detained items, it is not an over-exaggeration to say that hundreds of lives have been saved.

"A single unsafe electrical item could result in a house fire, involving all our emergency services, putting multiple lives and property in danger.

"The fact that we are detaining hundreds of these items every year, reduces those risks considerably."

Detained consignments are visually assessed and may be sent for further testing against relevant standards.

If products are assessed as unsafe, the goods may be suspended, and further enforcement action may be undertaken.

Between April and August this year, the team has targeted and assessed 146 different product lines - finding 73% to be unsafe or non-compliant.

As a result, 202,967 unsafe and non-compliant goods have been taken from the supply chain - with an estimated value to society of £6.5m.

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