Toy importer and wholesaler First Mart has been fined $45,000 for supplying unsafe toys.

First Mart pleaded guilty to one charge under the Fair Trading Act for importing over 800 units of a toy car and Peppa Pig-style figure, an unlicensed product Peppa Pig product, and supplying 540 units to various retailers.

In sentencing in the Manukau District Court, Judge Denys Barry said the company's small size precluded doing its own in-house testing, "but that inability must heighten the need for vigilance in assessing product safety especially for products targeted at, or attractive to, small children."

Judge Barry did not allow a sentence discount for limited financial means.

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Commerce Commission investigators purchased five units of the toy from retailers in Rangiora and Ashburton during a round of the regulator's ongoing programmer of unannounced visits to retailers. First Mart supplied the toys to both retailers.

First Mart imported over 800 units of the toy which resembled the ‘Peppa Pig’ brand. Photo / Supplied
First Mart imported over 800 units of the toy which resembled the ‘Peppa Pig’ brand. Photo / Supplied

Testing of the toys found that small parts became separated, including the pig figure, its ears, wheels, axels, which represented a choking hazard for young children.

First Mart initiated a product recall when it learnt of the commission's concerns; 61 units of the product were recalled.

First Mart had no comment to make when contacted by the Herald.

Commerce Commission chair Anna Rawlings said prosecuting toy importers and retailers supplying and selling unsafe toys remained a priority for the regulator.

"Toy suppliers need to understand and meet their legal obligations when supplying toys for children 36 months and under. If they don't, they put those children at risk of serious harm," Rawlings said.

ACC figures show that between 2014 and 2018 there were 32 accident claims relating to choking on toys by children 36 months and under.

Toys designed for use by children aged 36 months and under must comply with mandatory product safety standards to ensure parts do not break away easily and are not so small that they could be swallowed or ingested. The standard aims to reduce the risk of injury or death of young children.

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Last month toy importer and retailer 2 Boys Trading, which operates shopping mall retailer Lotsa Toys, was fined 75,000 relating to 13 charges under the Fair Trading Act after it sold unsafe toys over a seven-year period.

This is the 16th product safety prosecution taken by the Commerce Commission since the start of 2017, most of which were the result of unannounced inspections of retailers by the commission.