Need to know
- The ACCC has issued six toy recalls since September, and 43 since the beginning of the year
- We've also seen a number recalls of kids' products in other categories
- Despite continual campaigning by CHOICE and other consumer advocates, Australia still lacks a general safety provision
As the holiday shopping season draws near, product safety remains a particular concern for parents of young children.
Since the beginning of September, the ACCC has issued nine product recalls in the babies and kids category, from projectile toys that fail to warn that they shouldn't be aimed at the eyes or face, to teething toys that pose a choking risk.
Since the start of the year, the regulator has recalled 46 babies and kids products.
And while recalls in the category are down significantly compared to 2021, products from big names like Kmart and Target are still on the list.
In December 2020, CHOICE reported that 1426 kids' and baby products had been recalled in Australia since 1986, but many were still in people's homes.
It shouldn't be up to parents and families to test the safety of products in their homesCHOICE director of campaigns and communications Jessica Kirby
The ACCC has also issued a number of recalls of kid-related products in the home and living category, including Halloween and Christmas novelty items.
More recently, we reported on some of the shortcomings of the product recall system in Australia, which puts the onus on manufacturers and retailers to communicate recalls to customers. As our reporting revealed, this can create a conflict of interest and lead to gaps in the way recalls are made public.
Dangerous toys continue to make their way to the Australian market due to the lack of a general safety provision.
Dangerous products still on sale
The root cause remains the lack of a general safety provision in Australia, a regulatory regime that would require a product to be proven safe before it can be sold in this country. CHOICE has been pushing for the introduction of such a law for years, in line with consumer safety regulations that exist in many other countries.
In 2019, a total of about 780 Australians were killed by consumer products, and a further 52,000 injured, according to the ACCC.
Some of the most horrific incidents have involved the ingestion of button batteries by children. Since 2013, three deaths and 44 serious injuries have been recorded. In a 2019 CHOICE lab test, 10 out of 17 common household products failed our button battery safety test.
The root cause remains the lack of a general safety provision ... that would require a product to be proven safe before it can be sold in this country
As of June 2022, new mandatory safety and information standards for all products containing button batteries came into effect in Australia, a change that CHOICE and other consumer rights groups had long championed.
"Ultimately, It shouldn't be up to parents and families to test the safety of products in their homes," says CHOICE director of campaigns and communications Jessica Kirby.
"They should be able to trust that what they buy will not harm their loved ones. A general safety provision, requiring manufacturers to ensure products are safe is the only way we can fix the problem."
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.