New EU rules to strengthen the safe toys

The European Commission is satisfied with the adoption by the European Parliament of its proposal to substantially strengthen EU-rules on toy safety. It gives consumers assurance that toys sold in the EU fulfil the highest safety requirements world-wide, especially those relating to the use of chemical substances.

The new legal framework addresses a wide range of issues to ensure that toys do not present any health hazards or risk of injury. It improves the existing rules for the marketing of toys that are produced in and imported into the EU in view to reducing toy related accidents and to achieving long-term health benefits. Furthermore, “the new rules incorporate the newest health and safety standards”, said the Vice-President Günter Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industrial policy.

Key aspects of the new legislation

  • New chemical requirements: chemicals that are susceptible to provoke cancer, change genetic information or harm reproduction, so-called CMR (Carcinogenic, Mutagenic or toxic for Reproduction) substances are no longer allowed in accessible parts of toys. For certain substances like nickel the tolerable limit values have been reduced and those heavy metals which are particularly toxic, like lead or mercury, may no longer be intentionally used in toys. On the other hand, allergenic fragrances are either completely forbidden, if they have a strong allergenic potential, or have to be labelled on the toy if they are potentially allergenic for some consumers.
  • Enhanced safety requirements to prevent choking risks: rules to prevent children from choking or suffocating onparts of toys, especially small parts, are strengthened, inter alia to deal with the new risk of toys such as those with suction cups. Toys in or co-mingled with food always need to be in a separate packaging. Toys which are firmly attached to a food product at the moment of consumption (e.g. so called “party lollypops”) and which require the food to be consumed before getting access to the toy are prohibited.
  • Warnings on toys: in order to prevent accidents, warnings need to be marked on toys in a clearly visible, easily legible manner in a language easily understood by consumers. Warnings that contradict the intended use of the toy are not allowed, in particular the warning “not suitable for children under 36 months” on toys clearly intended for this age group. Toys contained in food or co-mingled with food shall bear the warning: “Toy inside; Adult supervision recommended”.
  • Obligations for toy manufacturers and importers: the obligations for toy manufacturers and importers are considerably strengthened. Before a manufacturer tests whether his toy respects the safety requirements of the Directive, he has to carry out a safety assessment of the toy, and establish more comprehensive technical information for all his products, including information on chemicals used, to allow traceability by the market surveillance authorities. Importers must check whether producers have carried out conformity assessment of toys correctly and if necessary must carry out random tests themselves. If toy manufacturers/importers do not produce toys in line with the safety requirements of the Directive, Member States can impose penalties.
  • Strong national market surveillance systems: member States will have to ensure that market surveillance authorities perform adequate checks at the EU external borders and within the EU including visits to premises of all economic operators to ensure that dangerous toys are immediately prohibited or withdrawn. Market surveillance authorities can also destroy toys presenting a serious risk. Also the CE marking has been strengthened. It is now required that the CE marking must always be affixed on the packaging if the marking on the toy is not visible from outside the packaging in order.