Christmas presents confiscated at port of Rotterdam

14/12/2012

Customs officers at the port of Rotterdam have stepped up inspections of shipments containing Asian-origin toys as Christmas approaches.

The port, which is Europes largest maritime gateway, handles 25,000 containers of toys each year and nine out of 10 toys sold in the EU come from Asia, with the vast majority coming from China.

On the evidence of the inspections, approximately 20%, an alarmingly high rate, of toys from Asia are classed as dangerous and end up being banned from sale, particularly at this time of year when toy purchases reach their annual peak.

Customs officers at Rotterdam are playing a front-line role in removing potentially dangerous toys from reaching consumers.

A recent report, shown on French TV, identified just how much attention to detail is given to the work by customs officers at the port of Rotterdam.

After identifying a container full of toys from China, the duty men were instructed to focus their search specifically on toys for very small children.

The report showed the attention of the duty men drawn to a shipment of plastic rings with beads and other small parts inside which could become loose and be swallowed by a young child. The reports also show concern over a doll and the risk of it being inflammable.

Shortly after, a sample of the rings and the doll are dispatched from the port to a state laboratory for rigorous testing and subsequently fail quality control standards.

In line with EU protocol, as soon as laboratories in member states detect dangerous toys, they issue an alert to the ECs product safety office, RAPEX, in Brussels. This is processed in real-time and each state is notified that the toy in question must be removed from stores without delay and destroyed.

This year, 350 dangerous toy alerts have already been issued, with the vast majority of them concerning Chinese-origin goods, marking an increase on the previous year.

A RAPEX official said,

The increase reflects a growing recognition in the EU that information on dangerous toys must be shared promptly and appropriate action taken.

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