Regulating toy safety and enhancing parent education on emerging toys in Hong Kong

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6th December 2023 – (Hong Kong) During a Legislative Council meeting, concerns were raised regarding the safety of emerging toys, such as “carrot knives” and “nasal snorting energy bars”, which have gained popularity on the Mainland and have been observed at some schools in Hong Kong. These toys, marketed as stress relievers, pose hidden dangers, including the risk of injuries and damage to the nasal mucosa and nervous system. The toys have already been imported to Hong Kong and are available for sale in stationery shops. In response, the government will take steps to regulate the import, sale, and possession of toys with potential dangers and strengthen law enforcement, inspection, investigation, and publicity efforts.

The Toys and Children’s Products Safety Ordinance (Cap. 424) plays a crucial role in ensuring toy safety in Hong Kong. The ordinance sets out safety standards for toys and stipulates that toys must comply with these standards before being manufactured, imported, or supplied. Violation of this provision carries penalties, including imprisonment and fines. The safety standards specified in the ordinance are regularly updated to align with international standards and major economies’ requirements. The last update took effect on 1st August this year, and the government is currently seeking public consultation to propose further updates for next year.

The government’s Customs and Excise Department (C&ED) serves as the enforcement agency for the Toys and Children’s Products Safety Ordinance. The C&ED actively conducts market surveillance and tests purchased toys and children’s products in the Government Laboratory to ensure safety compliance. Complaints and cases referred by relevant departments or organizations are investigated, and appropriate enforcement actions are taken, including prosecutions, prohibition notices, and warning letters. The C&ED also closely monitors information on suspected unsafe toys from various sources, both local and international.

In the past three years, the C&ED received 67 complaints related to toys and children’s products, conducted over 5,200 surveillance visits and spot checks, and investigated 88 cases. Prosecutions were carried out in 12 cases, and all defendants were convicted and fined. The C&ED issued prohibition notices and warning letters as part of their enforcement efforts. Additionally, blitz checks at boundary control points have been conducted to combat the import of unsafe toys and children’s products into Hong Kong.

To complement law enforcement, the C&ED also promotes compliance among traders by providing guidance on the requirements of the Toys and Children’s Products Safety Ordinance. In terms of publicity and education, the C&ED organises safety talks on toys and children’s products and distributes pamphlets to students and parents, aiming to raise awareness and ensure children’s safety.

The Education Bureau (EDB) actively supports home-school cooperation and promotes parent education through schools. The EDB provides guidelines to schools on cultivating a safe and orderly learning environment. Additionally, the EDB has launched Curriculum Frameworks on Parent Education for kindergartens, primary schools, and secondary schools. These frameworks emphasise the importance of parents providing a safe and supportive family environment and nurturing children’s self-management competence, good character, positive attitudes, and healthy lifestyles. The EDB disseminates important messages on supporting students’ physical and psychological development through the “Smart Parent Net” website, social media platforms, and a YouTube channel.