Firm Fined For Dangerous Toys

TGH International Trading (TGH) of Los Angeles, California has agreed to pay a $31,500 civil penalty to settle allegations that the company knowingly imported and sold <"">dangerous toys that did not meet the requirements of the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, said the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The CPSC said that it has provisionally accepted the penalty.

Apparently, TGH imported more than 11,000 toys into the United States between March 2005 and June 2006 that contained small parts that presented choking and aspiration hazards to young children. Through port inspections and the investigative work of CPSC and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), many of the hazardous toys were seized at the Port of Long Beach before they could reach store shelves and cause harm to young children. The CPSC said it is not aware of any incidents or injuries involving toys that were distributed into commerce.

We have long been writing about issues with imported toys that cause dangers to young children. For instance, toys made with parts that can be removed, pose hazardous, deadly choking and strangulation dangers to children.

“CPSC’s new authority to seek higher civil penalties does not mean we will ignore serious violations by small businesses,” said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. “We will continue to take enforcement action against any business, large or small, that violates the Commission’s product safety laws and regulations.”

In agreeing to settle the allegations, TGH International Trading Inc. denies that it violated federal law.

This week, we wrote that although the Commission, under its new leadership, is working to ensure imports coming into this country are safe for American consumers, the process is proving difficult. The CPSC is the agency charged with ensuring consumer products are safe for human health and use.

According to a prior Associated Press (AP) report, even though import numbers have increased, the agency cannot access necessary Custom’s data needed to help it in the prevention of dangerous goods crossing into U.S. borders, citing a Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) report. The GAO is Congress’ investigative arm.

In a 2002 agreement between Customs and Border Protection and the CPSC, the agency requested access to “manifest data,” said the AP, which, it noted, details cargo entering the U.S. before the products enter this country. Because Customs and Border Protection did not find the information specific to the CPSC’s needs, the information has not been provided, said the AP, which added that the access issue remains open today. The GAO report is mandating both entities to resolve the open item.

Prior to agency chairwoman Inez Tenenbaum’s appointment, the agency and its former acting commissioner, Nancy Nord, were taken to task for the Commission’s slow response to a variety of consumer issues, including the growing Chinese drywall problem. For months, homeowners nationwide have been plagued with homes emitting a “rotten eggs” odor that has been linked to corroding metals, and sinus and respiratory problems. Many residents have had to vacate their homes and some builders are scrambling to gut homes and replace the drywall.

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