2017-05-31 13:08:44

Recent spot checks by quality supervision departments around China have found that the country’s children are at risk of exposure to toxic toys, defective clothing, and overseasoned snacks.

The Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision found that a quarter of sampled children’s toys produced and sold in the city are substandard, state news agency Xinhua reported on Wednesday. Among the problems discovered by the bureau were pointy objects, improper use of plastic bags, and electric devices that easily overheat.

The head of one type of doll was found to be more than 18.4 percent phthalate — a type of chemical that makes plastic more flexible, among other uses. Exposure to so-called plasticizers can be toxic, especially to infant boys, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The Xinhua report said China’s national standard for plasticizers in children’s toys is 0.1 percent.

Last week, a similar test in central China’s Hunan province showed that a little over a third of tested toys, homework notebooks, clothes, and diapers were problematic. Some 120,000 defective products from 10 brands were recalled after the companies were “invited to talk” — a euphemism for receiving an official verbal warning — by the province’s bureau of quality and technical supervision in early May.

China is no stranger to dangerous toys, which have alarmed parents both in the country and abroad. The Administrative Provisions on the Recall of Children’s Toys went into effect in 2007, and more than 220,000 toys were recalled between then and 2015, according to official data.

The Beijing News reported Wednesday that the city’s food and drug administration looked into cheap snacks sold near schools around the city. For the price of just 0.50 yuan ($0.07), children can treat themselves to spicy strips of dried tofu, uncooked instant noodles, corn puffs, shrimp-flavored crisps, and salty packages of mushrooms or small fish.

But the administration found that many of the snacks are too fatty or sweet, or overseasoned with salt, spices, and other condiments. Among the tested foodstuffs was one bag of snacks that contained more sodium than a grown-up is recommended to consume in a day, and one-third of the sampled food was more than 20 percent fat. In total, some 6,100 kilograms of the snacks have been taken off the shelves.

Editor: Kevin Schoenmakers.

(Header image: A young girl admires toys in a display case in Zhengzhou, Henan province, June 1, 2004. Sha Lang/VCG)