Last year a number of large toy manufacturers violated the public trust by selling toys which had been produced in China, that were proved unsafe for children. In 2008 the US Congress rightly acted to beef up consumer protection laws that would help prevent unsafe toys – those with dangerously high lead content, small parts that could easily break and lead to choking, and similar safety hazards – from being sold in the US. Makers of handcrafted toys are finding the new law has unforeseen consequences.
The Consumer Product Improvement and Safety Act (CPSIA) bans lead and phthalates in toys; unarguably a good thing. It also mandates third-party testing and certification for ALL toys, and requires toy makers to permanently label each toy with a date and batch number. Not so good for independent makers.
While these changes are relatively easy for large manufacturers to implement, small American and Canadian producers say third party testing will be cost prohibitive. Critics of the law say the restrictive legislation punishes makers in the US, and will see the end of many home-based businesses.