Importer and wholesaler 1st Mart Limited (First Mart) has been fined $45,000 for supplying unsafe toys.
First Mart pleaded guilty to one representative charge under the Fair Trading Act 1986 that, between December 2015 and January 2018, it imported over 800 units of a toy car and pig figure which resembled the ‘Peppa Pig’ brand of products (but which, the Commission understands, were not licensed ‘Peppa Pig’ products), and supplied 540 units to various retailers.
In November 2017 Commission investigators purchased five units of the toys from retailers in Rangiora and Ashburton during a round of the Commission’s ongoing programme of unannounced visits to retailers. Both retailers were supplied the toys by First Mart.
The toys were sent for testing, during which various small parts became separated, including the pig figure, and/or its ears, wheels, and axles, and these parts represented a choking hazard to young children.
In sentencing in the Manukau District Court on 12 July, Judge Denys Barry said the company’s small size precluded doing its own in-house testing, “but that inability must heighten the need for vigilance in assessing product safety especially for products targeted at, or attractive to, small children.”
He did not allow a sentence discount for limited financial means, saying he did not accept that means less culpability, “rather it means it calls for heightened vigilance in sourcing products to improve safety.”
For the Commission, Chair Anna Rawlings said “prosecuting these cases continues to be a priority for the Commission because they are about the safety of small children. Toy suppliers need to understand and meet their legal obligations when supplying toys for children 36 months and under. If they don’t, they put those children at risk of serious harm.”
First Mart initiated a recall when it learnt of the Commission’s concerns and contacted all retailers who supplied the toy. 61 units were recalled.
ACC figures show that, between 2014 and 2018, there were at least 32 accident claims relating to choking on toys by children 36 months and under.
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 Commission has recently released 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.
Media are welcome to include links to the videos in online versions of stories but must attribute them to the Commission.