The EcoWaste Coalition reminded early Christmas gift shoppers to shun toys that are not compliant with the government’s product labeling requirements.

Republic Act 10620, also known as the “Toy and Game Safety Labeling Act of 2013,” requires  special labeling of toys and games to ensure protection of children against potential hazards to their health.

Under the law, all toys and games locally or internationally manufactured that are imported, donated, distributed and sold in the Philippines shall comply with the appropriate provisions on safety labeling and manufacturer’s markings found in the Philippine National Standards (PNS) for the safety of toys.

“We ask consumers to make use of their purchasing power to promote industry compliance to the toy labeling and packaging requirements, which are essential for injury prevention and child safety,” said Thony Dizon of EcoWaste Coalition.

As enumerated in RA 10620’s implementing rules and regulations, toy and game labels should bear the following information: license to operate (LTO) number issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA);  age grading; cautionary statements/warnings; instructional literature; manufacturer’s marking; and item, model, stock keeping unit (SKU) number.

The group said that many toys being sold in the market are still inadequately labeled despite the  FDA’s efforts to disseminate the requirements of the law’s implementing rules and regulations among stakeholders through a series of workshops last year.

The group cited the results of its monthly toy safety monitoring for September involving 27 samples procured for P39.95 to P199.00 each from four legitimate commercial establishments in Quiapo, Manila.

Out of 27 toy samples, only 6 were fully compliant to the labeling and packaging requirements. 

Additionally, 9 samples were totally unlabeled; 21 samples lacked the LTO number issued by the FDA; 17 samples provided no age labeling information; 10 samples showed no cautionary statements such as “Warning: Not suitable for children under 3 years.  Contains small parts” or its equivalent graphical symbol; 21  samples provided no or incomplete name and address of the toy manufacturer or distributor; 21 samples had no item, model, SKU number; and 1 sample had its labeling information written in foreign characters.

The EcoWaste Coalition also raised concern over specific hazards observed in some of the toy samples.

For example, an attractive wooden toy with tiny components measuring 1.3 cm in diameter provided no “choking hazard” warning.  

Several cute and squeaky animal toys that children can put into their mouths provided no information about their phthalate content.  Phthalates are industrial chemicals added to polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic to make them soft and pliable.  Known as endocrine disrupting chemicals, health authorities worldwide, including the Philippines, have banned certain phthalates in toys above 0.1 per cent.

There’s also the inappropriate practice of putting several unmarked toys in one pack with zero labeling information.  The promo pack, costing P150, entices bargain hunters to buy it.

The EcoWaste Coalition reminded toy manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers that violators of RA 10620 and its implementing rules will be fined not less than P10,000 but not more than P50,000, or imprisoned for not less than three months but not more than two years, or both.