The European Commission has recently adopted Decision 2008/329/EC, requiring EU Member States to ensure that magnetic toys placed or made available on the market, display a warning about the health and safety risks they pose.

Introduction

In recent years, the number of accidents worldwide with children swallowing magnets, which have become detached from toys, has risen sharply. The same applies to the amount of consumer complaints, incident reports and RAPEX notifications.

With magnets continuously becoming smaller, more powerful and more easily detachable, measures to protect children from the dangers hereof are urgently required. Especially since several EU Member States have already started implementing national legislation or are on the verge of doing so, ultimately leading to an unequal level of protection in the different EU Member States and to trade barriers within the EU.

Measures

In order to address the specific risks posed by magnetic toys, the European Commission (“Commission”) has given a mandate to the European Committee for Standardisation (“CEN”) to revise the European standard, EN 71-1:2005, within a period of 2 years.

Until this revision has been completed, however, temporary measures are needed in order to prevent any further accidents, caused by magnets, from happening to children.

It is for this reason that the Commission has decided by Decision 2008/329/EC (“Decision”) to oblige the EU Member States to ensure that any magnetic toys which are placed or made available on the Community market display a warning:

  • with the following wording:

    ‘Warning! This toy contains magnets or magnetic components. Magnets sticking together or becoming attached to a metallic object inside the human body can cause serious or fatal injury. Seek immediate medical help if magnets are swallowed or inhaled.’,

  • or with an equivalent easily understandable wording that clearly conveys the same content.

This warning must appear in a clearly visible and legible manner, conspicuously displayed on the packaging or otherwise attached to the magnetic toy in such a way as to be visible to the consumer at the point of purchase.

The warning must also appear in the official languages of the EU Member State in which the product is placed or made available on the market.

Definition

A magnetic toy is defined by the Decision as:

“a toy that contains or consists of one or more magnets, or one or more magnetic components that are of ingestible shape and size, and are accessible to children”,

whilst a toy means:

“any product or material designed or clearly intended for use in play by children of less than 14 years of age.”

Time frame

The aforementioned measures must be implemented by 21 July 2008.

As from that date, all magnetic toys which do not display the required warning are prohibited from being placed or made available on the market.

Magnetic toys which do not display the required warning and are placed or made available on the market are to be withdrawn from the market as of that date, and consumers must be adequately informed of the risk.