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2007 was marked by an increasing number of toy recalls, mostly due to the presence of high amounts of lead in the toys. There were exceptions to this rule, like the product Aqua Bead®, which when the beads are swallowed have a chemical reaction with the body, producing GHB, also known as the date rape drug. Toy recalls also occur when toys don’t meet safe construction practices. Toys that represent a choking hazard are recalled, for instance.
You can listen, watch or read the news to find out the latest on toy recalls, but not everyone has time every single day to do this. Many newspapers do list a handy recall section, which covers the latest toys, and also lists any unsafe foods or other products that are on the recall list. This might be listed once weekly in your paper, and days when it is published vary. Lots of parent Internet sites make excellent resources for finding out about recalled toys too.
The agency responsible for toy recalls in the US is the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). If you want the most comprehensive list of toy recalls in the US, this is clearly the site to visit. Simply search their central site to find all recent recalled toys; use the search term recalled toys, or toy recalls. You’ll get a list of every product. The CPSC additionally gives information on why the toy was recalled, which can be important in helping to decide whether a toy your child currently owns should or shouldn’t be discarded.
You can also call the CPSC product safety hotline at 1-800-638-2772. Note that the CPSC also recalls others types of consumer goods. These include things like household appliances, furniture, safety equipment like bike helmets, and many outdoor lawn and garden appliance like lawnmowers.
The CPSC can determine which toys have currently been deemed unsafe, through independent testing or consumer reporting. You can in fact report an unsafe toy to the agency through their website. This doesn’t mean that every toy on the market is safe; it just means the CPSC hasn’t tested it yet or received reports of safety problems.
Europe has a similar agency, the European Consumer Centre Network. If you’re shopping in the European Union, receiving gifts from Europe, or simply want to determine the safety of a toy that is shipped from Europe, this is probably the best consumer resource. It may be important to check their listings of toy recalls, too, since sometimes their listings are quicker than those in the US, and they may have toys unique to the European Union that you won’t find in the US.