Today I wanted to share with you some resources, tips, and research around the question that is always dominating online search engines, “Are Toys Made in China Safe?”
So, this is a loaded question that would take hours to fully unpack. I am going to give you a concise rundown of my research and personal experiences working with factories in China for the past 10 years in the apparel industry, and most recently in baby products.
My central point of this post is that a company is only as good as their Quality Control. Limiting where you buy your baby toys can narrow down any risks for harmful substances, but we live in the human world and there is always space for error; No matter if it is a small family owned company or a huge corporation. This goes for domestic as well as overseas production.
70-80% of all toys sold in the US are imported from mainland China. That’s pretty staggering, but not surprising. In a world where we as consumers generally want to pay the least amount of money, production moves to countries that can produce for less. In return companies can still make profit margins and we as consumers get to pay the lower price tag.
Recalls on toys surface frequently as discoveries are made by consumers or by the companies quality control/ testing facilities. Below I have listed some of the largest toy recalls in the past two years.
March 15th, 2018-
Handi-Craft Recalls Dr. Brown’s Lovey Pacifier & Teether Holders Due to Choking Hazard: approx 590,000 units
May 10th, 2018-
Munchkin Recalls Waterpede Bath Toys Due to Choking Hazard: Aprrox 72,000 units
August 29, 2018-
BSN SPORTS Recalls Rubber Critter Toys Due to Violation of Federal Lead Paint Ban: Approx 31,200 units
Feb. 5, 2019–
Fisher-Price Recalls Children’s Power Wheels Barbie Campers Due to Injury Hazard: Approx 44,000 units
This last one isn’t a toy but has been a hot topic this year.:
April 12, 2019-
Fisher-Price Recalls Rock ‘n Play Sleepers Due to Reports of Deaths: All models: Approx 4.7 Million Units
The sleepers were introduced in 2009 and all models, are being recalled. Fisher-Price safety regulation states that consumers should stop using the product when infants can roll over, and to always use the three point harness restraint. This particular recall is not a manufacturer issue, but is still a massive recall of Chinese produced baby products.
We have seen other large recalls in the past decade frequently for small magnet pieces that can be detached and ingested, and dangerous levels of lead in paint from some of the largest companies in the world. This includes Fisher-Price (Mattel), Vtech, Radio Flyer, and Munchkin.
What Does this Safety Testing Look Like?:
All toy manufacturers and their subcontractors are expected to adhere to strict QC controls to be able to export toys to the US and around the world. Manufacturers have to carry out quality assurance expectations including regular reviews of quality control methods, paint screening/testing, and tests of ethical manufacturing standards.
Most toy manufacturers send their products out to be tested by independent certified labs in addition to the QC inspection done by the manufacturer or production factory. The CPSC regulates this.
Why are so Many Toys Recalled from China?
Because China produces more than 70% of our toys purchased in the US, they will in turn have more goods that are recalled. Toys produced in other countries as well as toys produced here at home in the USA have also been recalled over the years. No one is immune to the possibility of having to recall a product.
Beware of Counterfeits– Issues with 3rd party sellers
In 2014 the company Fctry created the “Mustachifier” that became the top selling pacifier on amazon in 2014, generating millions in sales. Within the same year, they started to receive emails for verified purchasers of their product saying that the pacifier had detached from the base and their babies had almost choked.
After looking into the issue Fctry found out that the construction of the defective pacifiers was not the same as their design. Another vendor had made counterfeit pacifiers and was selling them as a 3rd party offer on the main listing.
This is why it is so important that you research the companies that you buy from if you are unsure of the 3rd party sellers; make sure to always buy from the main verified listing for important products like baby toys, bottles, pacifiers, etc.
If you would like more information about recalls or required safety testing you can look into the CPSIA. The CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) regulates all imported (and domestically manufactured) toys and children’s products in the United States.
Production in the US:
I am a huge supporter of more production in America, but I understand there are a lot of factors to make it a success. We are slowly seeing this change. The biggest challenge is the price tag. Products produced in America that are more ethically made will cost more. Are we willing to pay?
Looking for the best deal is ingrained in all of us and will not be changed easily. I am definitely more in tune with trying to buy US made and Eco-friendly/ sustainable goods now than I used to be. Especially when it comes to buying things for my son. I want him to have the best and be safe.
On the other hand I also believe in supporting a world economy. There are many Chinese factories that have shifted their priorities and are focusing on more Eco-friendly production. This not only benefits our country, but it benefits there’s as well. It means less pollution in the air, cleaner water, and a safer working environment. I believe these efforts should also be rewarded.
I spent years developing business friendships with countless production factories all over the world when I worked in clothing manufacturing. One of our biggest QC issues was with a sweater that was launched a few years ago in the winter. We were inspecting the first shipment that came into NY and hundreds of pieces of the order had large holes in them as well as drop stitching. The factory managers from China even flew into our main warehouse to resolve the issue. It was great to be able to build those professional relationships and see companies that take pride in what they produce.
Websites for safe US made toys:
Be You. Be Resilient.