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Finnish Customs bans popular sequined plush toys over choking risk

Tests showed that small sequins came off the toys too easily. The ban applies only to products tested by Finnish Customs.

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A number of the sequined playthings failed Customs' safety tests. Image: Merkku Pitkänen / Yle

Finnish Customs officials have banned a number of popular sequined plush toys form the local market because of the risk of choking. The EU Commission has also issued a warning about the products and is encouraging EU member states to pass on the advisory.

In tests conducted by Customs, small sequins attached to the toys were found to detach too easily. The soft toys were a hit product that came to market in Finland last winter. Customs officials decided on the prohibition following tensile tests conducted on the plushies.

"We have investigated 13 different sequined toys and they were all rejected. None of them has met the [safety] requirements. Small pieces have separated from all of them and they all present a choking risk," Customs head of monitoring Mikko Grönberg said.

"They are now being monitored by Customs. They cannot be allowed onto the market at the moment," Grönberg added. However he noted that there is no blanket ban on selling sequined toys, only the items that failed the Customs tests.

Warning from EU Commission

EU members send information about risk products to the EU Commission. The Commission may then decide to publish information about such products on its website, it if deems it useful for other EU states.

The Commission has now published a warning about the sequined plushies on its website. The advisory can be found in the Safety Gate – Most recent alerts' weekly reports section and is dated 31 May.

Story continues after photo.

Paljetteja kämmenellä.
Small sequins fell off the toys during tensile tests. Image: Markku Pitkänen / Yle

"We assume that the warning published on the Commission’s website will lead to a broader collection and testing of samples of this type of toy across the EU," Grönberg remarked.

He noted that toy manufacturers also follow the Commission’s warnings site, which results in remedial as well as preventive actions on their part.

"This complicates market access across the EU of these kinds of non-conforming products that present a choking risk to small children,"
Grönberg commented.

Thousands of products tested annually

The Customs laboratory performs safety tests on up to 700 toys annually and according to officials, a surprising number are found to be deficient in one way or another.

"About 15 percent of them fail the tests and roughly 100 batches of toys are rejected every year," Grönberg continued.

Other trendy toys that Customs officials have found wanting include different kinds of slime and spinners.

"Batteries can detach from spinners and slime has chemical problems," Customs lab physicist Mikko Kontiainen explained.

In addition to toys, lab experts run tests on various consumer products such as clothing, cosmetics and food items. Altogether, the lab examines up to 5,000 samples to ensure they conform to safety requirements.

Grönberg said that across the board, approximately 20 percent of products are rejected, but he noted that failure rates vary depending on the category of product tested.

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