Wellington, February 12, 2018
Toy importer Mega Import and Export Limited (Mega Import) has been fined $65,000 for selling toys which did not comply with a mandatory standard.
Mega Import pleaded guilty to two charges under the Fair-Trading Act last year and was sentenced in the Auckland District Court on February 9, 2018.
The Company imports toys and other products from China and distributes them to retailers around New Zealand. In late 2016 it sold nearly 1200 units of a toy baby buggy set and a baby rattle.
Commerce Commission Commissioner Anna Rawlings said that when tested, small plastic fragments broke free from the buggy and rattle, creating a choking hazard for children up to three years of age.
“That means the toys did not comply with the mandatory safety standard for children’s toys,” she said.
The Commission wrote to Mega Import in late December 2016 and it immediately recalled the two toys. The director of Mega Import told the Commission he had not seen the Standard.
“Toys that are manufactured for use by children under 3 need to comply with product safety laws so that they don’t pose a choking risk, or risk of some other kind of injury. If toy suppliers do not ensure their products comply, they put their business at risk of prosecution, and their customers at risk of much worse,” Ms Rawlings said.
In sentencing, Judge Mary-Beth Sharp said the offending was “highly careless” but not willful or deliberate.
“It is a mercy that no child has been injured so far, but with the products in the hands of innocent members of the public, there is potential for serious injury to be caused to young children playing with the goods,” she said.
She said traders who wish to live and trade in New Zealand “must make themselves conversant with the legal framework in which trading takes place”, and if they do not know it they “must employ an expert who does.”
The Commission’s prosecution of Mega Import arose from unannounced visits to retailers in the Manawatu/Wanganui region in late 2016.
“Product safety is an enduring priority for the Commission. In the past two years we have inspected more than 200 premises in 16 towns and cities across the country, and we are continuing to visit retailers and suppliers to monitor compliance with safety requirements,” Ms Rawlings said.
Any consumers who still possess the rattle or buggy should return them to their retailer.
The Commission enforces mandatory safety standards for six products: baby walkers, children’s nightwear, children’s toys, cigarette lighters, household cots and pedal bicycles.
The Standard for children’s toys aims to reduce the risk or injury or death to young children by ensuring that toys intended for their use are not so small, or do not have parts so small, that they could be swallowed or ingested causing choking.
Compliance with the Standard is mandatory under the Product Safety Standards (Children’s Toys) Regulations 2005.