An exclusive investigation by the Sunday Mirror found that sellers on online marketplaces are marketing ‘strong suction’ magnetic building kits as toys for babies as young as one month.
They shared concerns from parents whose children needed emergency surgery after swallowing super-strong magnetic balls. One mum, whose three-year-old suffered 14 holes in his stomach, begged parents: “Stay away from magnets.”
Katrina Phillips, Chief Executive of the Child Accident Prevention Trust, welcomed the investigation:
“Parents assume that the things they buy online must have been safety checked by the platform. But online marketplaces don’t legally have to check the safety of the toys we buy from their sellers, even though there are strong UK standards for toys.
“This means you could be buying super-strong magnets that, if swallowed, could rip through a child’s gut. Or toys with easy-access button batteries that can kill a child if swallowed.
“The Office for Product Safety and Standards warned about high-powered magnets back in May 2021. It reminded online platforms that magnets that are too strong should be removed from sale and any products that contain strong magnets should have clear warnings, where there is a risk of a child swallowing them.
“It is disturbing if online marketplaces are not complying with this.”
Amazon said its sellers must comply with laws and regulations as well as its own policies, and said the products had been removed.
The investigation comes just weeks after the Office for Product Safety and Standards issued urgent recalls for dangerous magnetic toys sold on two online marketplaces, Amazon and Wish.
One of the toys had a magnetic strength 17 times higher than the legal limit.
Experts at the Child Accident Prevention Trust are warning parents to look out for the recalls, to make sure they won’t be gifting unsafe toys to their children this Christmas.
Top tips for buying safe toys at Christmas
- Take care when buying from online marketplaces. They don’t have to check if the toys they sell are safe.
- If you can, opt for well-known brand names and retailers.
- Check who is selling the toy. If it’s a company you’ve never heard of, with no UK or EU address and the price is temptingly low, the toy may be illegal and unsafe.
- High-risk toys best avoided from unknown brands and sellers include those with:
– Super-strong magnets that can rip through your child’s belly
– Easy-access button batteries that can kill your child if swallowed
– Long cords that can strangle your child or small parts that can choke them
– Chargers that can catch fire or wires that can cause electric shocks.
- If you buy a toy that looks unsafe, trust your instincts and send it back.