The Commerce Commission says it is reminding toy suppliers that products must comply with the mandatory standard for toys, following the conviction of an importer for selling a baby rattle which did not comply.
AHL Co (AHL) was fined $20,000 in the Auckland District Court, after earlier pleading guilty to two charges under the Fair Trading Act, the commission said.
"This and other recent prosecutions show that suppliers of toys covered by mandatory standards must take responsibility for ensuring their products are compliant," said Commissioner Anna Rawlings.
"AHL has now set up a compliance programme but when interviewed by the commission, AHL's director said she was not aware of the standard and the company did not have a compliance programme."
AHL imports toys and other products from Asia and distributes them to retailers around New Zealand, the commission said. Between August 2011 and December 2011 it sold 259 baby rattles. It sold 12 more in November 2016.
"When tested for the commission, slivers of plastic broke from the rattle. Those slivers fitted inside what is known as the small parts cylinder, and they therefore created a choking hazard for children up to three years of age, "Rawlings said.
"That means the toy did not comply with the mandatory safety standard for children's toys."
AHL immediately ceased selling the rattle in response to the commission's investigation, and destroyed all but two of the 89 products it had in stock, with the other two held by the commission for testing. It issued recall notices to retailers.
In sentencing, Judge Evangelos Thomas said AHL was not aware of the standard and did no testing.
Thomas said the company "failed to make enquiries that would have been straightforward to undertake".
He declined to give a discount for AHL's efforts to become compliant with the law, saying "those are steps that should have been taken prior to the distribution of the rattles".
The mandatory standard applied to toys manufactured, designed, labelled, and/or marketed for use by children up to the age of 36 months, the commission said. Coughing reflexes were not fully developed in children of that age group, and they had limited ability to detect or avoid hazards.
Earlier this month another toy supplier, Mega Import and Export (Mega Import), was fined $65,000 for selling a baby buggy set and a baby rattle which did not comply with a mandatory standard.
The commission's prosecutions of Mega Import and AHL arose from unannounced visits to retailers in the Manawatu/Wanganui region in late 2016.