PINT-SIZED Smurfs being handed out to drivers in a BP petrol promotion may be a choking hazard.
Eastern Bay parents have raised concern about the cute promotional toys, which stand just 25 millimetres high, saying they could easily end up in the mouths of small children who could then choke on them.
The packaging contains a “0-3 ban” symbol and a warning text: “WARNING – not suitable for children under three years. Choking hazard due to small parts. This toy should be used by young children under adult supervision.”
However, some parents who contacted the Beacon have questioned whether it is realistic to expect that a four-year-old child, who would be warranted to use the toy according to the packaging, would safely manage the toy so it did not end up in the mouth of a younger sibling.
BP corporate and external affairs manager Leigh Taylor said the Smurfs was a heritage association for BP, and the promotion was the company’s way of thanking customers for coming to BP.
She said BP NZ has worked with its supplier to ensure all the legal requirements were met.
However, as highlighted, she said “these items are not suitable for children under three years of age and we recommend they are used by young children under adult supervision … this information is included on the individual packets.”
When it comes to the risk posed by small toys, Safekids Aotearoa says if a toy will go through a toilet roll it is unsafe and should not be used by small children.
“Since 2007, suffocation has overtaken vehicle traffic crashes as the leading cause of fatal injury death among children,” Safekids says.
“Suffocation almost exclusively affects very young children under the age of four, and particularly those under one year old. Nearly half of suffocation injuries were caused by choking on food or other objects.”
Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment senior product safety analyst Brendon Noonan said it was worth noting that there were many items in the home that posed potential choking hazards to young children, ranging from older children’s toys, to food and coins.
“Parental and carer supervision and care is essential in ensuring the safety of children,” he said.
MBIE has a range of resources available to parents about creating child-safe environments.
“Many toys carry age guidance information to assist parents and carers in making informed decisions about the suitability of a particular toy for their particular situation,” Mr Noonan said.
“Trading Standards provides guidance for parents and carers to help them assess the suitability of toys for their children on our website.”
He said if parents had concerns about the Smurf toys, they should lodge a complaint with the Commerce Commission.
“The Commerce Commission is responsible for administering the Product Safety Standards (Toys) Regulations 2005, which address small parts choking hazards from toys for young children 36 months and younger,” Mr Noonan said.
“The commission would need to review the complaints and make a determination on whether the regulations apply to this particular item.”
Warning labels not to be used to avoid compliance
THE dangers of children under 36 months choking are highlighted on the Commerce Commission website.
“Most children under the age of 36 months do not have a developed coughing reflex,” the website states.
This Product Safety Standard aims to reduce the risk of 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.
You cannot use labels to avoid complying with the standard and the regulations for toys that are intended for use by children up to 36 months of age.
For example, if you place a label on a baby’s rattle stating “Not for children under 36 months of age”, the rattle must still comply with the standard as it is the type of toy intended to be used by an infant.