19 October 2018
China-made rabbits can easily catch fire or have parts that easily come off, posing a danger to small children. Photo: DPA
China-made rabbits can easily catch fire or have parts that easily come off, posing a danger to small children. Photo: DPA

EU watchdog: Cuddle a Chinese rabbit at your own risk

Toy-shaped lighters, anyone?

Apparently, European smokers have been using the Chinese-made lighters in increasing numbers, prompting a warning from a consumer watchdog.

Also, consumers have fallen in love with a plush Chinese rabbit that can easily catch fire.

These were among the China-made products singled out as unsafe by Rapid Alert System (RAPEX), a consumer group comprising the 28 European Union states plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

About 64 percent of dangerous products RAPEX found in random checks across Europe were made in China, including Hong Kong, according to MSN Money.

It did not break down the numbers by origin.

Last year, the watchdog issued 2,435 notifications of unsafe products ranging from children’s playthings to clothing and appliances, up 3 percent from 2013.

“For me, as a mother and already a grandmother, the high number of harmful products among toys is alarming, so please beware of what you give your children to play with,” said Vera Jourova, the European commissioner for consumer affairs.

“It was also surprising how high a number of harmful products comes to the European market from China,” she told a press conference in Brussels.

Toys topped the list of products stopped before they entered European markets or were seized afterwards.

These accounted 28 percent of the total, followed by clothing (23 percent), electrical appliances (9 percent) and motor vehicles (8 percent).

They included soft toys with stuffing that could come loose and choke a child or those with detachable pieces that could be swallowed by them.

In particular there were lighters that resembled toys such as model bicycles and basketballs.

Shoes and leather articles, for example, may be tainted with allergenic chromium VI while fashion jewelry may contain harmful heavy metals, the watchdog said.

Just 14 percent of the dangerous products came from European countries, 7 percent from unknown origins and 2 percent from Turkey.

Concern remains over the proportion coming to Europe from China which has huge market penetration in the EU, Jourova said.

“The numbers and the situation is not improving,” she said.

She said the EU is working with Chinese producers to help them better understand EU safety standards.

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