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The Best Holiday Toys Are Safe Holiday Toys
Date:12/21/2008

New federal law requires extensive testing before they hit store shelves

SUNDAY, Dec. 21 (HealthDay News) -- The shiny toy seems perfectly safe, held snug in bright packaging and proudly displayed on the shelf of a reputable store.

But recent experience has shown that looks aren't everything.

A wave of toxic toy recalls in 2007 shook up parents and toy buyers, forcing them to rethink the dependability of purchased playthings.

A new set of consumer laws passed in the wake of those recalls could make this the most secure holiday season in some time, in terms of toy safety. Still, experts are urging parents to not let their guard down when it comes to assessing this year's gifts.

"A lot of the new standards don't go into effect until next year, but we're hoping the manufacturers and retailers will get ready early," said Liz Hitchcock, a public health advocate for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and part of the team that puts together the organization's annual toy safety report.

"At the same time," she added, "we don't want parents to think, 'Problem solved, let's go to the store,' thinking everything in the bill has been implemented. Parents need to be vigilant about what's in the toy box."

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, passed by Congress in summer, requires that toys and infant products undergo extensive testing before they are sold. The act also bans lead and other harmful chemicals in toys.

Other parts of the act call for the creation of a comprehensive, publicly accessible consumer complaint database; increased civil penalties that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) can assess against violators; and protection of whistleblowers who report product safety defects.

"We actually feel like this holiday season is going to be one of the safest because of the exposure we've gotten over the past couple of years," said Nychelle
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