Government targets unsafe products online ahead of Christmas

  • Government reviews over 1,000 products to ensure Christmas gifts are safe for families
  • 12,500 hazardous products, including toys, have been removed from supply so far this year alone, and testing continues over the holiday season
  • buyers are encouraged to check the warning signs to stay safe this Christmas

The UK government is testing more than 1,000 products to ensure Christmas gifts are safe for families, Consumer Affairs Minister Paul Scully announced today (Saturday 11 December).

Products, including toys, are sourced from third-party sellers in online marketplaces and the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) ensure that they meet high UK standards for product safety, or ensure that they are withdrawn from sale. If dangerous or defective products are identified, OPSS will contact the online marketplace to have them removed so that the Christmas presents are safe. Consumers will be able to return the products and receive a refund.

OPSS has identified goods such as toys, cosmetics and electrical appliances which may present particular risks. Products are checked for correct labeling and packaging and those that fail are sent to a testing lab for further investigation.

Today’s announcement is the next step in enforcement measures which have already seen 12,500 products withdrawn from supply so far in 2021. OPSS officials also undertake direct enforcement action alongside local authority trade standards and the border force.

Consumer Affairs Minister Paul Scully said:

No parent should have to worry about the safety of toys they bought for their children for Christmas. Unfortunately, there are greater threats than finding a lump of coal under the tree on Christmas morning, which is why we do everything we can to keep everyone safe.

The UK has some of the highest product safety standards in the world and we’re working hard to make sure nothing on the cheeky list ends up on Santa’s sleigh this Christmas.

Martyn Allen, Technical Director at Electrical Safety First (ESF), noted:

We welcome this enforcement activity OPSS, especially as Christmas approaches, when so many people are using online marketplaces to purchase gifts for loved ones. ESF is happy to work closely with OPSS to help identify and raise awareness of serious safety concerns, including simple checks the public can perform to ensure the products they buy are safe.

Mike Andrews, National Coordinator of the National Trading Standards eCrime Team, said:

Many of us will be doing our Christmas shopping online this year and so it is essential to remember that there are online scammers who tempt us with offers for dangerous products. Consumers should be on guard when shopping online and check the website to make sure it is genuine before making a purchase. If you think the products are unsafe, report the seller and website to Citizens Advice Scams Action on 0808 250 5050.

How to stay safe shopping for toys this Christmas

Buyers are encouraged to stay safe when purchasing toys this Christmas. Here are the steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones:

Know who you are buying from

Get as much information as possible about the seller, especially if you are buying from an online marketplace. Everything that is advertised on an online platform is not sold by them. If the actual seller is based overseas or does not provide an address, the risks are greater.

Always read warnings and instructions

Toys should be clearly marked with age restrictions, which are based on risks such as choking hazards. Always follow the age recommendations.

Watch for hazards and check button batteries

Small parts and loose ribbons can present choking and strangulation hazards. Make sure that all a toy’s button cell batteries are securely behind a screw-on flap.

Compare sellers

Good deals can be too good to be true. Compare the price of the toy with other sellers. If it’s a fraction of the cost, it could be a counterfeit.

Checking product recalls

Check to see if the toy you are buying has been recalled. It is the responsibility of the manufacturer or retailer to notify the public if a hazardous product is recalled, but we encourage consumers to periodically check this web page for important product safety information.

Additional information

Following a call for contributions earlier this year, the government pledged to consult on regulatory changes to address these issues, including ensuring that the responsibilities of online marketplaces are clear and that there has greater responsibility for products sold in the UK.

In November OPSS posted an important product safety post, reminding the public to check who they are buying from and providing a safety checklist for purchases.

OPSS runs a Christmas Toys product safety information campaign in the run-up to Christmas, which includes warnings about button batteries, strong little magnets, and the increased risk of buying online from an outside seller from the United Kingdom.

Last summer, the government launched a consultation on further measures to protect consumers from online scams. This includes tackling fake reviews online by making it illegal to pay someone to write or host, a fake review, and helping regulators remove other unscrupulous tactics like companies that pay for their product to be. very present on a trader’s website while hiding the fact that they have paid for such placement.

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