From toy-shaped cigarette lighters to a short-circuiting plush rabbit that catches fire, a growing number of dangerous products for sale — most coming from China — sparked warnings from a European safety watchdog on Monday.
The agency issued 2,435 notifications of unsafe products ranging from children’s toys to clothing and appliances last year — 3 percent more than in 2013, it said.
Sixty-four percent of the dangerous goods were made in China, including Hong Kong, the same figure as 2013, according to the Rapid Alert System, which covers the 28 EU states, as well as Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
“For me, as a mother and already a grandmother, the high number of harmful products among toys is alarming, so please beware of what you give your children to play with,” European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Vera Jourova said.
“It was also surprising how high a number of harmful products comes to the European market from China,” she told a news conference in Brussels.
Toys topped the list of products stopped before they entered European markets or seized afterward, at 28 percent, followed by clothing (23 percent), electrical appliances (9 percent) and motor vehicles (8 percent).
They included soft toys with stuffing that could come loose and choke a child or with detachable pieces that could be swallowed.
There were also lighters that resembled toys, such as model bicycles and basketballs.
Shoes and leather articles risked contamination with hexavalent chromium, while fashion jewelry could contain heavy metals.
Just 14 percent of the dangerous products came from European nations, while 7 percent had unknown origins and 2 percent were from Turkey, the watchdog said.
Concern remains over the proportion coming to Europe from China, which has huge market penetration in the EU, Jourova said.
“The numbers and the situation is not improving,” she added.
Jourova said the EU was working bilaterally with Chinese producers to help them better understand EU safety standards.
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