by Xinhua writer Wang Xiuqiong
BEIJING, June 10 (Xinhua) -- The European Union (EU) filed reports on cases of substandard toys from China last year 117 percent more than in 2006, affected by a new EU directive on toy safety and massive recalls by U.S. toy makers.
The EU members filed 398 notifications about toys through Rapex-China, a rapid alert system for non-food consumer product safety between the EU and Chinese governments, according to a work report given by the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of China (AQSIQ) to Xinhua on Tuesday.
The report said the large increase was partly due to the implementation of an EU directive that prohibited the use of phthalate (an additive that affects the flexibility of plastic) intoys and child care articles from last January.
"EU members focused on the inspections of phthalate in toys in 2007, which led to the increase of 105 notified cases in 2007," said the report. "But it must be noted that many of the toys were exported to the EU before 2007.
"Affected by large-scale recalls by U.S. toy manufacturers, the EU did special inspections on toys made in China in October 2007,"it said.
During that period, 179 cases, or 49 percent of the annual total, were reported.
The U.S.-based Mattel, the world's largest toy maker, recalled about 22 million Chinese-made toys last year over concerns about lead paint and magnets that could be swallowed. It later made a formal apology to China, admitting the vast majority of recalls were due to design flaws from Mattel itself.
The AQSIQ report cited the EU notifications as saying the main problems for the notified products were the use of harmful chemicals and toy parts that were easily detached and could choke children.
EU Consumer Protection Commissioner Meglena Kuneva told reporters here on Tuesday that toy safety remained her biggest concern about Chinese exports but that the EU had received good cooperation from China in product safety.
China has been presenting reports on prevention measures and follow-up actions to European alerts under Rapex-China. The system was launched in 2006.
Of the 833 cases reported through Rapex-China last year, China has taken measures in 152 cases, halting exports, ordering remediation or beefing up inspection and regulation.
Among the other cases, most didn't have sufficient information to trace the products, while in 15 cases "strong dissent" was heard from the Chinese enterprises concerned, said the report.
Following the Mattel recall, China launched a four-month special campaign on product safety led by then-Vice Premier Wu Yi. Altogether 3,540 toy makers were investigated and more than 700 were deprived of exporting licenses.
(Xinhua reporters Xu Bo and Zhang Xiaosong contributed to this report)