Ad-hoc government bans

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UK consumer minister Melanie Johnson, banned all shops from selling Yo-balls (which consist of a liquid-filled plastic ball on the end of a stretch of elasticated plastic) in April 2003, nine months after they began appearing on the shelves of shops. She said: "It is clear this toy poses a very serious risk to children and, in light of the findings of our safety tests, I am banning their supply. I do not want to spoil the fun that sensible use of the toy can bring, but on balance, I cannot ignore children’s safety. The government action – sparked by incidents of near strangulation – was the first ban on selling a new toy to be imposed since 1991, when the sale of jelly balls, bouncing balls that broke into pieces, was stopped.
One of the major distributors of the toys, H Grossman Ltd of Rutherglen, Glasgow, which had imported five million of the toys from China, voluntarily withdrew its version of the ball at the beginning of the month. Martin Grossman, the managing director said: "It is very, very sad that a wonderful product and a wonderful toy has been banned. Misuse of any product will make it dangerous”. "I think the government has jumped the gun," he added. However, trading Standards Officers in South Lanarkshire, had expressed concern about the product for some time.

It was the risk of small children wrapping the elastic string round their necks which led the minster to issue a nationwide ban. Trading standards officers had issued a warning after a seven year old girl wrapped an elastic string around her neck three or four times. Her mother said: "She was red. I tried to put two fingers down in between the string, but it just made it tighter. Then she started to make choking noises. It is hard to imagine something so innocent could do something like this." At least 8 similar choking incidents were reported in the several countries.

The ban made it illegal for shops to sell the toys, but Trading Standards officers had already visited other suppliers of Yo Balls and advised them to withdraw the products voluntarily.
Edinburgh City council said it had “received co-operation from traders throughout the city in taking the toys off their shelves and any danger was therefore removed as soon as possible." The government advised parents to consider disposing of balls already bought for their children.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 04 November 2008 12:27 )