13 December 2007 | Antony Barton
Authorities in China have forbidden more than 750 toy manufacturers from exporting their products, in an effort to crack down on unsafe toys.
In Guangdong province alone, 750 toymakers have had their export licences revoked or suspended and a further 690 companies have been ordered to modernise their manufacturing facilities and improve product quality within a fixed time. These actions form part of a Chinese investigation of over 3,000 toy manufacturers.
Chinese authorities recently revoked a licence for a Guangdong factory exporting the Bindeez or Aqua Dots brand after it was discovered manufacturer JSSY accidentally coated the products with a chemical that can turn into a 'date rape' drug if eaten.
The figures appear in a European Commission report on product safety controls in the EU. Consumer commissioner Meglena Kuneva ordered the review in September, after a series of product recalls by manufacturer Mattel over fears some toys had been finished with toxic paint.
The report reveals there has been "very considerable progress in terms of follow-up action on the side of the Chinese to stop dangerous consumer goods coming on to the EU market".
In October, 69 per cent of product alerts in the EU concerned Chinese products, against an average of 48 per cent for 2007. The report found this is due to increased vigilance of EU member states.
According to the report, Chinese authorities investigated 184 cases of dangerous products between July and September, compared with 84 in the previous 12 months. It goes on to say this is because of a "significant effort with respect to its enforcement actions" rather than a boom in dangerous products.
Corrective measures were taken in 43 per cent of the cases. The report attributes this low number to the Chinese authorities often having incomplete, or a lack of, information about the manufacturer. This accounts for a quarter of all notifications. For the remainder, the manufacturer may have already stopped making or improved the product, or has ceased to exist.
Margot Parker, European spokeswoman for the British Promotional Merchandise Association, says EU reviews will help push safety checks throughout Chinese supply chains. "It's important China plays its part, but UK buyers should also ensure products are checked before they're signed off and dispatched."