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Toy Association: Watchdog Safety Warnings not Credible

In recent comments ahead of the annual release of unsafe-toy lists, the Toy Industry Association took aim at consumer watchdogs that it says use faulty tests. One group, which has since released its list to the public, disputes the claims.

If your kids get their hands on a Kick Flipper by Playsmart, they may be putting themselves in danger, according to World Against Toys Causing Harm (WATCH), a toy-safety watchdog group.

But the industry association that represents toy manufacturers says that WATCH and other similar groups aren’t backing up their statements about dangerous toys with real research. That’s especially problematic, according to the Toy Industry Association, because such lists are widely published in the media.

In a recent news release, TIA called the lists “misleading,” arguing that they disregard the fact that the toys meet federal safety standards and have not been declared unsafe by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

“Each holiday season, a small group of nongovernmental organizations seek to generate publicity and donations for themselves by needlessly frightening parents during an otherwise joyful time of year,” TIA President and CEO Steve Pasierb said in a news release. “Having spent more than two decades in public health, I see these groups time and again failing to support their claims with credible, scientific data that families can trust. What parents can rely on is knowing that all toys sold in the U.S. are highly regulated 365 days a year by the federal government and must meet more than 100 safety standard requirements. These are established facts in which parents can have faith.”

Watchdogs cite recalls

In an interview with the Associated Press, WATCH President Joan Siff acknowledged that the group doesn’t conduct its own tests but says that it is working to highlight issues that parents may miss, such as warnings on labels. She added that more than 3 million individual toys have been recalled in the past year despite the consumer protections that are in place.

In the case of the Kick Flipper, one of the toys on WATCH’s “10 Most Dangerous Toys” list released Thursday, warnings that accompany the toy say that it shouldn’t be used on stairs and inclines. And WATCH notes that the skateboard-like device doesn’t recommend use of safety equipment, such as helmets, when children are playing with it.

“The $22 billion-a-year toy industry should be asking what they can do better to protect children instead of making blanket statements that ‘toys sold on U.S. toy shelves are safe,'” Siff told the AP.

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG), which was also criticized by TIA in its recent comments, noted in a blog post that its work has led to more than 150 toy recalls over the past three decades and that its tests for toxic chemicals were conducted in a lab approved by the CPSC.

“We hope to find zero potentially hazardous toys in stores, but until that day comes, you can count on us to continue to make sure our littlest consumers are playing with safe toys,” U.S. PIRG Public Health Advocate Dev Gowda wrote.

TIA has launched a website, PlaySafe.org, that both discusses toy safety and counters statements by consumer groups that it calls myths.

The Playsmart Kick Flipper, a toy recently called unsafe by a consumer watchdog. (Handout photo)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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