EcoWaste Coalition calls attention to insufficiently labeled toys

The EcoWaste Coalition reminded early Christmas gift shoppers to shun toys that are not compliant to the labeling requirements of Republic Act 10620, or the Toy and Game Safety Labeling Act of 2013.

“We ask consumers to make use of their purchasing power to promote industry compliance to the toy labeling and packaging requirements, which are essential for injury prevention and child safety,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

As enumerated in RA 10620’s Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR), toy and game labels should bear the following information: license to operate (LTO) number issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); age grading; cautionary statements/warnings; instructional literature; manufacturer’s marking; and item, model, stock keeping unit (SKU) number.

It will be recalled that the EcoWaste Coalition and Laban Konsyumer Inc., together with 20 mothers as co-petitioners, filed a petition for a Writ of Mandamus at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court in October 2018 to press the lead agencies to release the said law’s IRR.

The required IRR was finally promulgated by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez on January 20, 2019.

However, many toys being sold in the market are still inadequately labeled despite the FDA’s efforts to disseminate the requirements of the IRR among stakeholders through a series of regional cascading workshops last year, the EcoWaste Coalition lamented.

To prove its point, the group cited the results of its monthly toy safety monitoring for September involving 27 samples procured for P39.95 to P199.00 each from four legitimate commercial establishments in Quiapo, Manila.

Out of 27 toy samples, only 6 were fully compliant to the Labeling and Packaging Requirements under Rule 1, Title II of RA 10620’s IRR. Additionally:

— 9 samples were totally unlabeled;

— 21 samples lacked the LTO number issued by the FDA;

— 17 samples provided no age labeling information;

— 10 samples showed no cautionary statements such as “Warning: Not suitable for children under 3 years. Contains small parts” or its equivalent graphical symbol;

— 21 samples provided no or incomplete name and address of the toy manufacturer or distributor;

— 21 samples had no item, model, SKU number; and

— 1 sample had its labeling information written in foreign characters.

Aside from the inadequate labeling information, the EcoWaste Coalition raised concern over specific hazards observed in some of the toy samples.

For example, an attractive wooden toy with tiny components measuring 1.3 cm in diameter provided no “choking hazard” warning. Choking occurs when an object obstructs the throat, blocking the airway and making it difficult for the child to breathe.

Several cute and squeaky animal toys that children can put into their mouths provided no information about their phthalate content. Phthalates are industrial chemicals added to polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic to make them soft and pliable. Known as endocrine disrupting chemicals, health authorities worldwide, including the Philippines, have banned certain phthalates in toys above 0.1 per cent.

The group also pointed to the inappropriate practice of one store to put several unmarked toys in one pack with zero labeling information. The promo pack, costing P150, entices bargain hunters to buy it.

The EcoWaste Coalition reminded toy manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers that violators of RA 10620 and its IRR will be fined not less than P10,000 but not more than P50,000, or imprisoned for not less than three months but not more than two years, or both, at the discretion of the court.

The group will continue its monthly toy monitoring in the lead up to Christmas 2020 for children’s health and safety from hazardous toys.