Major changes to Toy Legislation 2011
Hands up anyone can who can remember Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toys and the launch of the first Gameboy? If these seem like ancient history consider the fact that these were the most popular toys the last time toy legislation was updated
Since then technology has boomed (can you remember a life without instant internet access) as has the % of toys imported from the Far East rather than made and sold locally
New toy legislation which takes effect from July 2011 is designed to catch up on the advancements in manufacturing and technology (For instance the EN71 part 3 “Migration of elements” which comes into force July 2013 has a huge increase of 8 to 19 elements to be tested for).
Before we proceed with this article we need to make plain that we are an importer of knitted and crochet toys. We are not a testing house or a legal expert. We also know nothing about any toys except soft toys! If you are looking for in depth data on the new toy legislation please follow these links
Talking specifically there is a significant quantity of changes for soft toys. These include the following
• A widening of the interpretation of what is a toy
• New directives on warning labels.
• All toys for young children will need to be ‘cleanable’
• Minor changes to flammability tests
• Increase in traceability of toys. The company which first places the toy in to the EU must have their contact details on the se-in labels. If something goes wrong then the importer can be easily identified
Most importantly to us the new toy legislation effectively moves from a position where you just test the finished product to testing all the individual components of the product before it is manufactured.
It moves the onus of testing from the finished product to the design and components of the toys.
If you can cast your mind back a couple of years you may remember some major toy recalls by international companies such as Mattel and Hasbro
The problems mostly concerned magnets and lead content and were caused by faults being designed in to the toy rather than manufacturing errors
Manufacturers/importers must hold a technical file for all their products showing where each component was made and its test certificate. The toy is made from safe components and as long as it is then manufactured correctly it is guaranteed to be safe
Technical files will need to be held for 10 years
If you routinely swop factories to get the cheapest price for your product this new regime is going to be a nightmare!
Instead of just testing the completed teddy you will need to see where your new factory is sourcing its components from, and see all their test certificates. Multiply this by 100s of new products and dozens of new factories and its going to be an administrative nightmare!
However if you source from smaller and less industrialised places its absolutely brilliant!
For example, we have some fair trade, hand made rag dolls which are hand sewn by a workers’ co-operative in South Africa. The testing costs for Azo dyes for these dolls was in the £000s despite the fact that the components of the doll are organic.
Under the new legislation we would be able to self-certify that no azo dyes were included as we could trace back all the materials to point of origin and show that no azo dyes had ever been bought by these factories
This means that we can widen the people we source from.
Once we used to have to factor in testing costs of £000s for every product we bought. To make this commercially viable we then had to be confident that the toys would sell in quantity. Now we have to ensure that the components making our toys are safe and the people making them are trained. Less prescriptive but much safer!
We are not saying that this new toy legislation will mean that toy importers can avoid testing. If you are sourcing from highly industrialised places its the exact opposite. However it does focus the safety testing where it is most needed, on the components and on the factories where it is feasible that chemicals/non safe practises would be used
As a retailer how will the new toy legislation affect you?
The new legislation clearly defines the roles of companies in the supply chain
Manufacturers: must ensure toy meets European safety regulations. Carry out safety assessment. Draw up technical documentation. Apply conformity assessment. Affix CE.
Importers: must ensure – safety assessment is carried out, that the technical document has been drawn up, labeling is correct, the toy is accompanied by safety information. They must keep Declaration of conformity and tech files for 10 years.
Distributors: must ensure labeling regs are met. Co-operate with MS Authorities and identify other economic operators
Retailers only need to have a copy of declaration of conformity from supplier. They do not need to have technical files or test certs. Internet retailers will need to clearly state any warnings on the toy on the description of the toy
Each toy will now have a technical file associated with it. Retailers should have a copy of the Declaration of Conformity and you should ask your supplier to see it on any toy which sells in volume through your shop
The CE and EN71 will be the same, and it is also still a legal requirement that the importers address details should be on the sew in label
If you make your own toys in the UK then you will still be required to hold a technical file for your product and to include your contact details on the sew in label. You will be able to self certify your toy but you should hold copies of the test certificates of all your components
We recommend that you contact your local Trading Standards as soon as possible to discuss the implications of this new legislation. They are friendly and approachable and are there to help. And remember, ignorance is not considered a defence!
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