Stuffed animals are cute and cuddly, but they can also be dangerous. German testing firm Stiftung Warentest says many stuffies fail the safety tests.
The firm tested 30 plush animals in accordance with German safety tests standards which, as you can imagine, are quite strict. It turned out that 21 of the stuffies had some issues – from easily bursting seams to more worrying unsafe materials used for the making of the toys.
In total Stiftung Warentest recommends only 8 of all the tested 30 toys as being completely safe. Only one toy, an expensive $60 stuffed rabbit gets full points for being well made, the rest are “good”. What being “well made” means? Well each toy is subjected to a special machine which mimics the way most children often pull the stuffed animal’s limbs. There is a certain limit of pulls and strength with the seams must endure. Most of them seem to be bursting way too easily, Warentest notes.
More worryingly, in 19 toys the fur was made by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAK) which shouldn’t be used for toys. 13 toys contained the carcinogenic PAH Chrysene and seven had the PAHs naphtalene.
While all of this sounds worrying, there are easy solutions, Ralf Diekmann from Gearman health and safety service TUV Rheinland says. The European Union is already working on limiting the amount of chemicals allowed to be used, but that will take a few more months time. The chemicals are dangerous if ingested so this means you will have to be careful your child not to tear and swallow parts from the toy.
The testing firm gives a few tips on how to increase the safety when buying new stuffed animals. Examine the toy in the store. Look for easily breakable items such as buttons or something else. Give the seams a slight pull to see if they are strong or they move easily. If there is any unpleasant odor to the toy, also leave it and opt for another one.
For babies and toddlers pick toys that are with short fur and can’t be ingested as babies love to explore toys with their mouths. For older children you can also opt for toys with longer fur.
Also look for the CE mark on the tag of the toy. It is mandatory and means it has passed the minimum safety requirements. If there is a second mark – GS – even better. This means the toy has passed an additional independent testing. The GS mark is not mandatory however, so it won’t be on all toys.
For stuffed animals that will be mainly played with children, Stiftung Warentest recommends choosing toys that are machine washable. It’s important for the keeping up of the hygiene in the toys.