Customs puts choke hold on hazardous toys

These flashing ladybugs (left) contain small parts that can easily be removed. Clacker balls (shown right) have been found to shatter into pieces. Both pose a choking hazard to young children.

May 3, 2012 7:56:51 AM PDT
US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized more than 5,000 plastic toys destined for Harwin Drive after it was confirmed the toys posed a hazard to children.

More than 4,900 clacker balls and 275 plastic flashing ladybugs were seized on Monday. Authorities say the clacker balls are banned in the United States because testing indicates the balls would shatter into pieces, posing a choking hazard to children. The plastic ladybugs contained small parts that are easily removed, which also pose a choking hazard.

The shipment, containing 32 cartons of unsafe toys, arrived from China in January and was targeted for a closer inspection because the items were marked as plastic balls and plastic flashing insects. A Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) compliance investigator participated in the inspection and sent samples of the toys to its laboratory for a more detailed examination.

CBP was notified Monday that the toys did not comply under a federal hazardous substances act and requested the shipment be seized.

"Our officers work diligently to ensure the facilitation of legitimate trade through our ports of entry by reviewing entry documents and selecting shipments for thorough inspection," said Houston CBP Acting Director of Field Operations Judson W. Murdock, II. "This seizure is an example of commodities that not only violate US trade laws but also pose a serious hazard to the American consumer."

The shipment was turned over to CBP's Fines, Penalties and Forfeiture office for disposition.


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