ST. PAUL — Parents should be on the lookout for potentially dangerous toys as they start their shopping this holiday season, state officials said this week.
Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley on Tuesday, Nov. 26, said the Minnesota Department of Commerce planned to ban off-brand spinning battle toys, commonly referred to as Beyblades, which had tested positive for excess levels of cadmium and lead found to be dangerous to children's health.
Online retailers carrying the toys were given a 24-hour deadline to pull the toys from their websites or prevent their sale in Minnesota. The toxic toys weren't found in brick and mortar stores in the state.
And while officials said they were confident the three websites found to sell the 15 varieties off-brand toys would comply with the ban, they also issued guidance to Minnesotans beginning their holiday shopping on how to avoid the products.
A spokesperson for Amazon on Tuesday said selling partners on the site are required to abide by state laws and regulations and those who don't can face withholding of funds or lost selling privileges. The online retailer received the communication from Minnesota officials and was taking action.
A team of state investigators was alerted to a potential case of toxic exposure to cadmium when a child in Minneapolis got sick and officials found one of the off-brand spinning battle toys in the family's home. Inspectors from the Minnesota Departments of Commerce and Health as well as the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency then tested the 50 varieties of the toys sold in Minnesota.
Of those, 15 tested positive for toxic levels of lead and cadmium and department heads opted to ban the toys and to require online retailers Amazon, AliExpress and Wish to remove the toys from their sites or prevent their sale in Minnesota within 24 hours.
"As a dad and a grandpa, I know how scary news like this could be," he said, "but I am proud of the work (Consumer Products Interagency Team) has done in investigating this case and developing the recommendations for action."
Kelley said it's the first time to his knowledge that the department has banned toys and he expressed optimism about the online retailers' willingness to pull the dangerous toys. The department has previously banned jewelry found to contain excess levels of cadmium.
The manufacturers appeared to sell the toys at lower prices but in similar packaging to name-brand spinners to lure in vulnerable populations in Minnesota, Kelley said.
"They were clearly designed to confuse the consumer about what they were buying," Kelley said. "I could see myself easily mistakenly choosing an off-brand product as a gift for one of my grandchildren."
Lead poisoning can impair a child's mental and physical development. And exposure to high levels of cadmium can lead to cancer, osteoporosis and other health conditions. State health officials encouraged parents to screen their children for lead and cadmium as part of regular doctors' visits.
"Heavy metal exposure does not show up until later," Assistant Commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Health Daniel Huff said. "It's always important that parents have their children tested for lead and other metals when they go to the doctor. Lead should be part of the child well visits for children under 6."
How to avoid potentially dangerous toys
- Look for brand-name product logos like Hasbro and TAKARATOMY on toy packages.
- Watch packages for spelling or grammar errors or mistakes that could indicate they are off-brand.
- Products at much lower prices should raise red flags.
- Children should not put toy parts in their mouths.
- If you have a concern, call the Chemicals in Products Interagency Team at 651-539-1600.
Information from the Minnesota Department of Commerce.