Children's Products

31st Annual Survey Finds Recalled Toys in Online Stores

Consumers should watch out for recalled toys still in homes

Washington, D.C. – Some toys that have been recalled for lead, powerful magnets or other hazards may still be available for sale in online stores, according to U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund’s 31st annual Trouble in Toyland report. Consumers may also have previously recalled toys in their homes. The survey of potentially hazardous toys found that consumers should be wary when shopping this holiday season.

The report lists 44 toys totaling 35 million units recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) from January 2015 to October 2016 with the message to consumers that some of these recalled toys may still be available online or still in homes.

“We should be able to trust that the toys we buy are safe. However, until that’s the case, consumers should understand two things: first, not all recalls may be well-publicized so you should check your house for previously recalled toys and second, some toys that are recalled may still be available online,” said Mike Litt, Consumer Program Advocate with U.S. PIRG.

For over 30 years, the U.S. PIRG Trouble in Toyland report has offered safety guidelines for purchasing toys for small children. Over the years, our reports have led to over 150 recalls and other enforcement actions.

“Ideally, manufacturers would use the same resources to recall a product as they use to market the product,” said Rachel Weintraub, Legislative Director and General Counsel of Consumer Federation of America. “This includes making sure that the consumers who need to know- those who own or purchased the product- find out about the recall, but unlike durable nursery products, such as cribs, which are required to provide a way to register the product so that the manufacturer can contact the purchaser or owner in case of a recall, that’s not the case with cheaper toy recalls where product registration is not required,” Weintraub stated.

Some of the recalled toys that our researchers found may still be available for sale at online stores include:

  • A toy glockenspiel which was recalled in February 2016 due to high levels of lead in the paint. If the paint is scraped off and ingested lead can cause adverse health effects.
  • A remote-controlled flying toy which was recalled in June 2016. The toy’s USB charging cord can overheat, posing a hazard.
  • A pencil case which contains two magnets that hold the case lid closed and can detach, posing an ingestion hazard. If these two magnets are swallowed, they can link together inside a child’s intestines and result in serious internal injuries.

Read our full report which includes a full list of recalled toys and those that we found may still be available for sale online, as well as specific information including manufacturers’ names, pictures, and remedies for what consumers should do if they have the recalled toys in their homes.

It is illegal to sell a recalled product under CPSC rules. We have notified the CPSC about these potentially illegal sales and have asked them to investigate these toys further and take appropriate action.

The CPSC should improve recall effectiveness by:

  • Engaging in efforts to increase consumer and researcher awareness of the public hazard database SaferProducts.gov.
  • Aggressively seeking to increase recall effectiveness by making sellers agree to conduct more effective outreach campaigns that stress the real hazard posed, rather than simply promoting the purported good will of the firm.
  • Performing regular online sweeps checking for the availability of previously-recalled toys.
  • Holding companies reselling recalled products accountable, which will also send a message to other firms.

Parents and caregivers can also take steps to protect children from potential hazards. We recommend that parents:

  • Subscribe to email recall updates from the CPSC and other U.S. government safety agencies available at www.recalls.gov.
  • Shop with U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s Toy Safety Tips, available at toysafetytips.org.
  • Examine toys carefully for hazards before purchase – and don’t trust that they are safe just because they are on a store shelf. Check the CPSC recall database at CPSC.gov before buying toys online.
  • Report unsafe toys or toy-related injuries to the CPSC at Saferproducts.gov.
  • Remember, toys on our list are presented as examples of previously recalled toys only. Other hazards may exist.
  • Review the recalled toys list in this report and compare it to toys in your children’s toy boxes.
  • Put small parts, or toys broken into small parts, out of reach. Regularly check that toys appropriate for your older children are not left within reach of children who still put things in their mouths.

Over the past eight years, stronger rules have helped get some of the most dangerous toys and children’s products off the market. Rules put in place by the 2008 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act tightened lead limits and phased out dangerous phthalates.

“To keep recalled and other potentially unsafe products out of their homes and out of their shopping carts, consumers should use SaferProducts.gov to research and report potentially unsafe products,” stated Weintraub.

“You can easily access our toy safety tips on your smart phone at toysafetytips.org,” concluded Litt. “And please check your home for recent recalled toys you may still have in your home.”

To download our full Trouble in Toyland report, go to ToySafetyTips.org or go to U.S. PIRG’s website.

Contact: Mike Litt, U.S. PIRG, 202-461-3830; mlitt@pirg.org; Rachel Weintraub, Consumer Federation of America, (202) 387-6121 rweintraub@consumerfed.org


U.S. PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) Education Fund (uspirgedfund.org), is an independent, non-partisan group that works for consumers and the public interest. Through research, public education and outreach, we serve as counterweights to the influence of powerful special interests that threaten our health, safety, or well-being.

The Consumer Federation of America is an association of more than 250 non-profit consumer groups that, since 1968, has sought to advance the consumer interest through research, education, and advocacy.