Toys and games safety labeling should be implemented ASAP – environmentalist and consumer advocates

Sample toy label Image © balloonhq.com

PHILIPPINE based environment and consumer advocates demanded the much delayed implementation of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 10620 (the Toy and Game Safety Labeling Act of 2013).

In an appeal to the Department of Trade and Industry, the EcoWaste Coalition, an environment and public health watchdog; and Laban Konsyumer, a consumer advocacy group, reiterated their demand to the DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez “to release without further delay” the law’s IRR to ensure children’s protection against unsafe toys.

“The apparent delay in the issuance of the IRR, which is deeply lamentable, does not serve the law’s objective of promoting children’s right to safe toys, particularly their right to adequate and truthful information to facilitate sound choice,” said Atty. Victorio Dimagiba, Laban Konsyumer president.

For its part, EcoWaste’s Thony Dizon said “The DTI should release the IRR as the actual enforcement of R.A. 10620 depends on it. The honest-to-goodness implementation of the mandatory labeling requirements, we believe, will help in curbing the unrestrained trade of unsafe toys such as those that are laced with dangerous chemicals.,”

A study on toys sold in the local market conducted in July 2011 by the EcoWaste Coalition and IPEN (a global NGO network promoting safe chemicals policies and practices) found 29 percent of 200 toy samples to be laden with harmful substances such arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury above levels of concern.

None of the analyzed toys had labeling information about their chemical composition and many had no cautionary statements.

Subsequent studies also revealed the prevalence of more unsafe toys in the market, which can pose chemical, choking, flammability, laceration, strangulation and other health and safety hazards, especially among children.

Legislators took notice of the problem and filed pertinent bills —  Senate Bill 3367 and House Bill 6529  — which were consolidated into RA. 10620, to protect children from unsafe toys through mandatory safety labeling requirements.

RA. 10620 requires compulsory labeling for all toys and games in accordance with the appropriate provisions on safety labeling and manufacturer’s markings found in the Philippine National Standards (PNS) for the safety of toys. It further requires cautionary statement to be displayed in its entirety on the principal display panel of the product’s package and on any descriptive material which accompanies the product.

At the same time, RA. 10620 also provides for the removal from the market of toys and games that do not adhere to the labeling and packaging requirements. Such non-compliant toys and games shall be considered misbranded or banned hazardous substance, and shall be withdrawn from the market at the expense of the manufacturer, importer, wholesaler or distributor.

For the guidance and protection of consumers, the DTI is required to regularly publish every six months the list of all manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers who failed to comply with the requirements of R.A. 10620.

It law also mandates the health department to similarly publish every six months the list of all misbranded or banned hazardous substances and to prohibit their sale, offer to sell and market distribution.

Moreover, RA. 10620 imposes a fine of not less than P10,000 but not more than P50,000, or imprisonment of three months to two years, or both, to anyone found violating the law on safety labeling.

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