Trading Standards warning over Christmas toys

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With only three weeks to go until Christmas, Lincolnshire Trading Standards is warning consumers to shop carefully when buying children’s toys.

Colourful, interactive and musical, some toys may look like an excellent buys to parents, guaranteed to occupy kids for hours. However, sometimes, the most unsuspecting toys can actually pose a danger to children.

Senior trading standards officer at Lincolnshire County Council, Alexandra Connell, says: “Most toys sold in the UK and Europe are very safe because of laws regulating their manufacture.

“However, cheap, illegal imports are sold widely on the internet and social media shopping sites. You can also sometimes get caught out at places like local markets, temporary shops and car boot sales.”

Lincolnshire Trading Standards has put together some top tips for shopping safely:

•Always head for reputable retailers - whether on the High Street or online. They will be careful what products they stock, and you should be able to return something if there is a fault.

•Beware of counterfeit goods. They may have low prices but they are illegal and often not made to proper standards. Internet auction sites can be particularly prone to counterfeit items.

•Be wary of a “too good to be true” deal. A rule of thumb is: if something costs less than half the normal price, it’s likely to be fake.

•Make sure toys are appropriate for the child’s age. In particular, remember that babies and toddlers can choke on small or loose parts.

•Think about other possible hazards - for example, does a toy gun have the potential to cause an eye injury?

And before you buy, always check for the following:

•Name and address of the manufacturer or importer - this information is a legal requirement. Unless both the name and EU address/postcode are present - DO NOT BUY

•Type, batch, serial or model number - these must be present - if they aren’t - DO NOT BUY

•CE Mark - if only the CE Mark is present but not the above information - DO NOT BUY

•Age range of the product - toys that might be dangerous for children under three must say so and state the risks, for example: WARNING: CHOKING HAZARD

Alexandra adds: “We work closely with traders across the county to try and ensure the products they make or import are safe. This year, we’ve seized thousands of toys from markets across the East Coast, including unlicensed and unsafe “Despicable Me” Minions. If we feel a toy is unsafe, we will remove it immediately from sale. If you see a toy is unsafe, contact Citizen’s Advice on 0845 404506.”

For more information on toy safety, visit www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/tradingstandards