Urgent product safety warning on magnets in toys

27 May 2011

NSW Fair Trading Minister Anthony Roberts is asking the media and the public to help get an urgent warning out about the potentially fatal dangers of magnets in toys, after a 3-year old NSW Central Coast child this month suffered a serious throat injury.

Mr Roberts said the injury happened after the child swallowed small magnets from a 'NeoCube' toy.

“The child swallowed four magnets and was operated on at the Sydney Children's Hospital to remove the magnets and is being treated for perforation of her oesophagus,” he said.

The toy in question had no warning label and was purchased on eBay from China, which is not subject to Australian labelling requirements. The toy is not available in stores in NSW.

“Be very careful when buying toys online,” the Minister said.

All toys sold in NSW for children aged under 3 years must undergo rigorous product safety testing to prove they comply with relevant Australian safety standards. Toys suitable for children under the age of 14, containing one or more hazardous magnets or magnetic components, are required to have a warning statement on the toy's packaging and instructions.

Mr Roberts said the law for toys containing magnets was initially introduced by NSW Fair Trading in March 2010 and is now a national requirement.

“Many children have suffered serious infections and internal injuries such as perforations and obstructions of the bowel after swallowing more than one magnet,” he said.

“Whether you are a retailer, distributor, or importer, you are responsible for ensuring toys containing magnets comply with this regulation.”

Mr Roberts said a new national product safety law, in effect since 1 January 2011, provided consistent protection from unsafe products.

Under the Australian Consumer Law, governments can regulate children's toy safety by issuing safety warning notices, banning products permanently or temporarily, imposing mandatory safety standards, or issuing compulsory recall notices.

Penalties apply for breaches of product safety laws. Companies can be fined up to $1,110,000 for failing to meet safety standards, while individuals face fines of up to $220,000.

Contact details

For more information about product safety in NSW go to the NSW Fair Trading website - magnets in toys or call 13 32 20.