Suffolk toy safety standard warning

TOY exporters in the Far East are being sent a strong signal by the impounding of goods which fail safety tests in Suffolk, it was claimed today.

TOY exporters in the Far East are being sent a strong signal by the impounding of goods which fail safety tests in Suffolk, it was claimed today.

MEP Richard Howitt said blocking the entry of containers at Felixstowe port meant the exporters would not get paid - and that would force them to improve their standards.

Mr Howitt visited Britain's biggest container terminal to see inspections and testing of toys arriving for the last-minute Christmas gift rush and was shown the types of potentially deadly toys which had failed and been impounded.

He said: “Twenty years ago all our toys said 'made in Hong Kong' on the bottom - now it's 'made in China', which produces about 80per cent of the toys sold to our children.

“Initially standards were very high because the toys were being made in the main centres of China, but now production has grown and moved out to the regions and provinces and standards have slipped.

“This year we have woken up to that fact and there has been a crackdown.

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“At European level, products from a further 750 toy manufacturers in China have been banned, and that strengthens the hand of the trading standards officers here in Suffolk, who are doing a fantastic job.

“What I was keen to learn at Felixstowe was what more we can do at a European level to help the diligent and vigilant officers here - we will be looking at the whole issue of toy safety again in the New Year.

“I think all this work, and especially the impounding of containers, is sending an extremely strong signal to the manufacturers in China that we are inspecting cargo and they need to raise their standards if they want to sell their goods.”

The majority of Chinese toys imported to Britain arrive through Felixstowe and Mr Howitt saw the consignment of cuddly fluffy toys - called Russko Plush Flumpz - removed by officers this month before they could reach shop shelves, and also other toys which have been impounded because they could be a risk to children.

He said: “Many of the same problems we had many years ago are still there - eyes which come out revealing sharp needles, toxic paint, loose fittings, small pieces which tiny children could choke on - and we must continue to be vigilant and work at this.”

n Do you think toy safety standards are tough enough? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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