Europeans and Americans Seek Safety Standard for Toys
It can be pretty dangerous being a kid these days. Colorful toys containing high levels of lead in the paint, “date-rape” beads, dangerous magnets, choking hazards… and who knows what’s next?
In recent months, one product after another has been recalled due to some safety hazard and the resulting havoc played with consumers, retailers, manufacturers and government agencies has been profound.
Having reached the apparent “enough is enough” stage, representatives of the European Union and the U.S. government will meet in Washington, D.C. today to discuss establishing a global toy safety standard.
An unidentified member of the E.U. contingent told Reuters, “We will be trying to make sure we are both on the same sheet of paper. If the E.U. and the U.S. can agree [on] a regulatory framework, then this in essence becomes the global standard and forces other countries like China to follow suit. That’s our aim.”
Members of the U.S. Congress and the European Parliament have been calling for action. In Europe, members have sought a vote to ban the import of toys from China while at home, Congressional members in the U.S. are seeking to improve the inspection process and establish harsher penalties for those who do not comply with safety standards.
Perhaps surprisingly, toy industry members are largely on board with establishing global standards and with the creation of a regulatory mechanism for oversight and enforcement.
“A new global mark is the only way forward from industry’s point of view and we have had a positive response to this idea on both sides of the Atlantic,” one unnamed senior industry source told Reuters.
“Toy companies are global companies and cannot work with different rules in different regions. It also means if we do this, the Chinese will then have to come on board, they will have no choice but to sign up,” according to the same source.
Discussion Questions: Does creating a global standard for toy safety make sense? What about a global regulatory body to enforce the standard? If adopted for toys, would other global standards and regulatory bodies be created for other product categories? Would you see that as a positive or negative development?