With the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival just around the corner, the Customs and Excise Department (C&ED) has conducted spot checks on retailers supplying battery-operated toy lanterns and light sticks. Among the 18 models of battery-operated toy lanterns and four models of light sticks sent to the Government Laboratory for safety tests, 10 toy lanterns and all light sticks passed the tests while eight toy lanterns were found to have safety problems.
Of the problematic lanterns, one model was found with accessible points at the end of the metal screw posing a danger to children. Three models of unsafe lanterns were each contained in an elastic plastic bag of thickness less than 0.03810mm, posing suffocation hazard to children.
The C&ED has served four concerned retailers with Prohibition Notices, prohibiting their supply of these toys.
The four problematic lanterns and another four lanterns were also found to not carry the required instructions on safe battery usage, such as "Do not mix old and new batteries" and "Do not mix alkaline, standard (carbon-zinc), or rechargeable (nickel-cadmium) batteries". There were also no correct battery polarity and voltage marked on the battery compartment and the name and address of the local manufacturers, importers or suppliers were not shown.
Of the 22 tested samples, the Government Laboratory confirmed that nine lanterns had sound-producing features that complied with the requirement of the peak emission sound pressure level prescribed by the European Standard.
A Customs spokesman today (September 25) reminded parents to watch out for potential hazards of battery-operated lanterns and light sticks when selecting toys for their children.
Tips to guard against potential risks are as follows:
In 2008, the department conducted spot checks on various retailers which supplied battery-operated toy lanterns and light sticks. One supplier was prosecuted and another supplier was served with a written warning under the Toys and Children's Products Safety Ordinance for supplying unsafe lanterns.
Under the ordinance, it is an offence to manufacture, import or supply a toy unless the toy complies with one of the prescribed safety standards.
The ordinance carries a maximum penalty of a fine of $100,000 and imprisonment for one year on first conviction; and a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for two years on subsequent conviction.
To report unsafe toys and children's products, consumers may call the Customs 24-hour hotline 2545 6182 or write to the Consumer Protection Bureau, Customs and Excise Department at 11/F, North Point Government Offices, 333 Java Road, North Point.
Ends/Friday, September 25, 2009