With the strict safety and quality standards of children’s toys, there is absolutely no room for non-compliance. Compliance issues can cause potential health hazards and in some cases fatalities. Here we discuss the importance of toy testing and provide you with an exact outline of toy safety regulations and all of the most recent updates to help you avoid compliance issues, so that you can continue to produce toys of the highest quality. The toy industry is a lucrative one with “toy sales in 2015 increasing by 4% over 2014 to $87.4billion...with estimated growth expected to exceed $90 billion in sales in 2016.”
There is surely continued opportunities for economic growth and sustainable innovation in this massive industry going into 2017 and beyond.
But, the toy market, and product safety specifically, makes it a volatile one.
What happens when due diligence is left by the wayside?
41% of toys that were recalled in the EU alone were due to choking hazards, whilst chemical compositions makes the second largest recall between January 2016 and July 2017.
By looking at the graph below, you will see the breakdown of recalls over this period of time:
The stats above paint a clear picture for importers to abide by toy safety compliance standards, for it is not only in your best economic interest, but also for your brand’s protection and growth.
Today, children’s toys are subject to some of the strictest safety and quality standards in the retail marketplace due to the sensitive nature of their consumer base.
The question is...
How do importers keep up with the latest news in toy safety regulations to avoid potential disasters and recalls as reflected above?
In this blog post, I seek to highlight the EU EN71 safety standards that your imported toys need to comply with. I will also highlight the latest updates of this standard, to ensure you are up to date with the latest in toy compliance.
We also look at the US standard, ASTM F963, where we will highlight the latest updates to ensure that your products are in compliance. Lastly, I seek to provide you with actionable steps to achieving compliance according to these standards and what you can do to continue producing children’s toys of the highest quality.
The EN71 is a set of European Product Safety standards that apply to all toys, sold in the European Union. The EN 71 also forms a part of the CE directive. As an importer of children’s toys you will need to ensure that the toys you are importing into Europe are labelled with this CE mark.
This mark basically stipulates that a particular toy is compliant with the safety regulations as laid out by the European Union and its safety standard.
Here is a table of what this standard is inclusive of, but I will also highlight the ones that have been updated recently so that you, know exactly what your products need to be compliant with;
TABLE of EN71
The latest EN71 update includes
The latest children’s toy update and revision of the above table is as follows;
The CEN has published Toy safety standard EN 71-12:2016 for n-nitrosamines and n-nitrosatable substances. This standard is expected to be harmonized under Toy Safety Directive 2009/48/EC by publication in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU).
Major change of the new version includes this;
- More stringent limits of n-nitrosamines and n-nitrosatable substances for toys intended for use by children under 36 months and intended or likely to be placed into the mouth of the child.
- a modified definition for ‘elastomer’ from ISO 472:2013 (Plastics – Vocabulary, for better clarity)
- a new procedure for the extraction process for toys and parts of toys other than balloons
- use of porous graphitic carbon (PGC) reversed phase (C18) high performance liquid chromatography (HLPC) columns as an additional option for analysis
- an additional set of multiple reaction monitoring-transitions (MRM-transitions) for quantification and identification
What this revision should mean for your sourcing and production strategies
This standard is applicable to the following products;
- Toys and parts of toys made from elastomers and intended for use by children under 36 months
- Toys and parts of toys made from elastomers and intended to be placed in the mouth
- Finger paints for children under 36 months
Manufacturers will need to provide evidence of compliance from the supplier of these materials, before the manufacturing of these items can proceed. There may also be a random sampling after mass production for post production testing to ensure you are not in violation of the above safety regulations.
The ASTM F 963-16, The Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Toy Safety, is a comprehensive standard that addresses numerous hazards that have been identified with toys.
The latest ASTM F963 update includes
- Among the changes, the 2016 revision addresses ride-on toys with: a new curb impact requirement, a clarification of overload and stability requirements, and a strap exemption.
- new labelling requirements for toys that have certain small coins or button batteries,
- temperature and current-limiting requirements for lithium-ion batteries, and
- new requirements for materials and toys that could expand if accidentally swallowed.
- Other revisions include:
- new soaking and compression tests for magnets
- new requirements and clarifications related to microbiological safety;
- clarifications to heavy elements requirements for toy substrate materials
- revised requirements for toys involving projectiles; and,
- clarification of requirements and supplemental guidance for impact hazards.
What this revision should mean for your sourcing and production strategies
You will have noticed that all children’s toys that have been produced after 30 April 2017 needed to be tested according to ASTM F963-16.
According to ASTM F963-16 all toys that are intended for children of 12 years old and under need to be tested by a registered CPC third party testing and quality provider, who will then furnish you with the appropriate product specific CPC which declares that your product complies with the federal toy safety standard.
Suggestions for complying with these toy testing regulations
As an importer you may be feeling overwhelmed about adhering to the regulations as laid out above and while you should be doing everything you can to adhere to them, here we lay out a few suggestions of how to go about doing this;
- You need to work towards improving quality control procedures by strictly monitoring the quality of raw materials. Do not fall into the trap of using cheaper, substandard materials. Whilst this may be appealing for cost reduction, you will be putting your brand at unnecessary risks.
- Improving your products quality always needs to be a primary goal. Many of the new updates in regulation also stipulate the use of a third party quality provider as mandatory for your products compliance.
- Ensure you use a third party company that is up to date with the latest in toy testing and safety regulations. This will reduce the risks of potential product recalls resulting in a bad image for your brand, but also a loss in revenue.
- Seek new non-toxic environmentally-friendly raw materials. How do you go about sourcing your raw materials? This may step may be a little more difficult to pursue, but let’s take a look at Lego. Their blocks are made of plastic, but currently, they are investing loads of money and time into finding alternatives to plastic for their famous building blocks. It’s this kind of commitment that ensures a positive and innovative position in the market place.
Understanding the regulations and what they mean for your current sourcing strategy for children’s toys will help give appropriate direction and guidelines to your current competitive positioning in the market place.
By understanding these regulations and ensuring compliance according to them, you are able to guard yourself against potential product recalls and even potential lawsuits that could come from health and safety violations that are sadly too often found within children’s toys.
"API is equipped to meet the above product testing and safety requirements accordingly to ensure your brand’s safety and protection."