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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 November 2007, 11:30 GMT
China takes action on toy safety
Sarge from Pixar's Cars
Millions of Chinese-made toys have been recalled this year
China has made "considerable progress" in improving the safety of the toys it exports, a European Commission report has found.

Millions of Chinese-made toys were recalled this year, amid concerns about lead levels and loose magnets.

Chinese authorities investigated twice as many as dangerous goods in the three months to the end of September than it did in two previous investigations.

In nearly half the investigated cases, action was taken to improve safety.

Taking action

China fully investigated 184 cases of dangerous products in the three-month period, compared with 84 cases in two previous reports, carried out in July this year and December last year.

In 43% of cases, "corrective measures" were taken, in some cases stopping the export of the unsafe products.

In Guangdong province alone - where most Chinese toys are made - more than 750 toy manufacturers have had their export certificates suspended or revoked.

A further 690 firms have been ordered to improve their factories and product quality within a set time.

However, in about one quarter of all cases, there was not enough information about the manufacturer to successfully carry out an investigation, the Commission said.

Dangerous magnets

Many toys have been recalled because of dangerous magnets, which are increasingly strong and detach more easily from toys than in the past.

Mattel handout picture of Polly Pocket toy - undated
There are fears young children could swallow some toys' magnets

New warnings are needed on toys, said the Commission, which will draft "appropriate warnings about the dangers of magnets in toys".

The Commission also promised to agree a "safety pact" - between manufacturers, retailers and importers - in 2008 to rebuild consumer confidence.

Results of an audit of safety measures in the toy sector are expected in the first quarter of next year.

Brand China fears

The toy recall earlier this year rattled confidence in the "Made in China" brand.

Roughly 80% of the toys sold in Europe come from China and analysts feared that China's economy has grown so rapidly over the past two decades that addressing safety would take a long time.

But while progress still needs to be made, the news may help to reassure European consumers and importers that China takes product safety seriously.

"China has made important efforts to improve the quality of its exported toys," Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said on Thursday.

"I believe Chinese products, including toys, will continue to be liked by consumers around the world. I wish children around the world a safe and happy Christmas and I hope Chinese-made toys can bring them joy," he said.



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