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FDA to draw up stronger policies on toxic toys

MANILA, Philippines - After a month-long random inspection of toys being sold in Metro Manila, the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) hopes to come up with stronger policies against toxic or unsafe toys.

In an interview, FDA director Dr. Suzette Lazo said they hope to get data on “the level of unsafe toys” being sold in the country to be able to formulate strategic plans on how to address them.

“This campaign is a scientific survey to find out the situation. We will be covering all establishments – from the sidewalks, to the retailers and to the mall. And when we have the data, we will be formulating stronger policies,” she said.

According to FDA spokesman Ronald de Veyra, the agency is alarmed over the volume of unlicensed and toxic toys being sold in the country now. Most of these products come from China.

De Veyra said there are only 135 manufacturers, importers and distributors of toy products so the public should be conscious about the playthings that they buy for their children.

“They have to know that even toys need to be registered with FDA to make sure that they are safe for children. They should not patronize those that are not licensed,” he claimed.

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Last Thursday, the FDA and the Department of Trade and Industry examined toys at a local mall using a “delta x-ray fluorescent analyzer” to detect unsafe substances in toys. The FDA leased the handheld machine from a private company for the campaign.

“This year’s campaign is different because we have the equipment. Within second you’ll find out if a product is unsafe or not. Because of that, we’ll be able to take actions if a toy does not pass our standards,” she said.

According to Lazo, the FDA hopes to purchase at least four or five such machines to effectively monitor products being sold across the country.

“We have to get funding for that because each unit costs some P2 million. It is also being used by other regulatory agencies abroad. It’s actually a breakthrough,” she said.

Lazo has warned parents to closely monitor their children’s toys, which should be labeled according to age and printed with appropriate warnings.

“In the future, I think we should also review the kind of toys being sold in the market, like if they are interactive or if they have long shelf life ..... Toys are essential. We cannot live without toys but we have to make sure that they are not harmful to our children,” she added.

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