Toy importer and retailer 2 Boys Trading Limited (2 Boys) has been fined $74,250 on 13 toy safety-related charges under the Fair Trading Act 1986, after a Commerce Commission investigation.
2 Boys imports toys and sells them via eight retail outlets branded as “Lotsa Goodies” which are owned by companies linked to the 2 Boys owners. The shops are in Auckland, Hamilton and Christchurch.
2 Boys sold approximately 1,700 units of three toys, all of which failed to pass testing undertaken by the Commission. Small parts came free from the toys during testing, and those parts were small enough to be a choking hazard for young children. In addition, some toys fitted fully inside a testing template, meaning they were also a choking hazard.
In sentencing on 20 June in the Manukau District Court, Judge Chris Field said the Court needed to “send a clear message to other companies trading in this way that significant penalties can be imposed for breaches of this kind.”
This is the 15th successful product safety prosecution taken by the Commission since the start of 2017. Most of those prosecutions result from the Commission’s proactive programme of unannounced inspections of retailers.
“Toy importers and retailers must take note of the criminal convictions and fines repeatedly handed down by the courts. They reflect the importance of compliance with laws that are there to protect small children against serious physical harm. If you supply toys you must be aware of and act on your legal obligations. The Commission has extensive resources for traders in this area, including videos which explain the obligations of those selling toys that may appeal to children aged under 3. If you have any doubts about the toys you sell you should not supply them,” said Commission Chair Anna Rawlings.
The toys to which the charges relate are:
- Aquatic toy set containing six squeezy toys, supplied between October 2015 and March 2018
- Baby Star baby rattles, supplied between May 2012 and November 2016
- 5.5 inch soft plastic doll, supplied between May and December 2017
The baby rattle packaging was labelled “3+” and “not suitable for children under 3 years”. The aquatic toy set was labelled “Warning: Choking Hazard – Small parts, Not for children under 3 years” and the same wording was on the rear of the doll packaging.
In sentencing, Judge Field noted 2 Boys “did not conduct any of its own checks apart from generally checking the product was as ordered and relied on guidelines which stated the toys were for use for children aged 3 and over.”
For the Commission Ms Rawlings said “the labelling is a notable feature of this case. It attempts to suggest the toys are not suitable for children under 3 years of age. These are clearly toys intended for children 36 months of age and under, and traders cannot avoid their legal obligations by including ‘3+’ labelling or similar,” said Ms Rawlings.
All toys which were the subject of the charges were removed from sale by 2 Boys and recalled. Details can be seen on the Lotsa Goodies website and at recalls.govt.nz by searching for “Lotsa Goodies” or “2 Boys Trading”.
The mandatory standard for toys covers toys intended for use by children up to 36 months of age. It aims to reduce the risk of injury or death to young children by ensuring that toys intended for their use are not so small, or do not have parts so small, that they could be swallowed or ingested causing choking.
Testing of such products includes tension, torque (twist), and drop testing, and it is designed to simulate normal use and reasonably foreseeable abuse of toys by young children.
The choking hazard from small toy parts is the subject of episode 9 of the Commission’s animated series It’s All Good.
Toy safety videos
The Commission has produced a set of three videos designed to help businesses, all of which can be found on the Children’s toys page of the Commission website, along with further guidance for businesses:
- ‘The story of a toy’ shows the potentially devastating impact of supplying an unsafe toy
- ‘Any doubts? Don’t sell’ gives guidance on the mandatory product safety standards, particularly that for toys for children 36 months and under
- the final video demonstrates the three tests that toys undergo to demonstrate they pass the mandatory standard