Consumers can look forward to a safer Christmas after more than 150,000 unsafe toys and other items were removed from store shelves during a national blitz led by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
"Australians need to have confidence that the products being sold on store shelves in the lead up to Christmas are safe and comply with Australian standards," said Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, David Bradbury.
"A national audit conducted by the ACCC and State and Territory regulators in the lead-up to Christmas saw the recall of more than 150,000 unsafe items around the country.
"Of the 150,000 items, more than 83,000 unsafe toys were removed from pre-Christmas store shelves thanks to the work of product safety inspectors and the cooperation of suppliers. These include toys that contained small parts that pose choking hazards, unsafe magnets or toys with unsafe lead levels.
"Another 4,500 wrongly labelled children's nightwear items have also been removed, protecting our children from potentially life-threatening burns."
Australia has strict mandatory safety standards covering a range of products that can cause death and serious injury if they fail to meet those standards.
The Commonwealth, State and Territory consumer protection agencies have worked together in two national surveys of these products in around 3,000 outlets over the last six months. This covered a range of retailers including major department stores, speciality stores, discount variety stores, small traders and markets.
"Major retailers showed a high level of compliance while many products sold at discount variety stores and markets failed various tests," said Mr Bradbury.
"Suppliers, small or large, must ensure that toys and other items they sell meet the mandatory product safety standards, which are designed to protect all Australians.
"The results of the national audit put suppliers on notice that selling non-compliant, unsafe products can result in costly recalls and other penalties.
Mr Bradbury strongly advised parents and carers to be aware of precautions they can take to ensure the toys their children play with are safe.
"As we approach the festive season, it is even more important for parents and carers to ensure that the toys their children are playing with are safe."
There are a range of ways consumers can ensure their children have a safe Christmas, including:
- not giving children under three years of age toys that have small parts, or small objects such as coins, batteries, magnets and screws
- reading labels and packaging – look for and follow the age recommendations and instructions about proper assembly, use and supervision
- choosing sturdy and well made toys that can stand up to rugged play
- making sure that nightwear has the safest fire danger labelling and regardless of what clothing children are wearing they are never exposed to heat or flames of any kind
- seeking immediate medical attention if infants become sick after placing objects in their mouths
- regularly checking www.recalls.gov.au for children's toys that have been recalled in Australia.
"From 1 January 2011, the Australian Consumer Law will also come into force, with harmonised product safety standards and a consistent enforcement regime in each jurisdiction.
"Suppliers should be aware that the Australian Government and the ACCC take product safety laws and the protection of consumers very seriously – enforcement action, including prosecution will be taken against offenders."