The Mail on Boxing Day carried a story that the EU is warning toddlers can choke on a football and that balls with a circumference of 25in must be marked ‘Choking hazard!’. Let us backtrack a tad:
The previous version of the Toy Safety Directive (88/368/E was repealed in July 2011 when the new Directive (2009/48/EC) – published in June 2009 – came into force. However, Article 2(1) and Part 3 of Annex II of of the old Directive will not be repealed until 20 July 2013 – these sections deal with chemical migration of harmful elements.
Where the subject of ‘chocking’ is concerned, we are helped by the Guidance Document issued by the European Commission on the application of Directive 2009/48/EC on the safety of toys. If we turn to page 84 of that document, we find:
“Particular Safety Requirements – Physical and Mechanical Properties
4 (d) Toys, which are clearly intended for use by children under 36 months, and their component parts and any of their detachable parts must be of such dimensions as to prevent their being swallowed or inhaled. This also applies to other toys which are intended to be put in the mouth, and to their component parts and any of their detachable parts.”
The guidance clearly states (page 85):
“This requirement concerns the risk of choking presented by small toys and small parts. It only applies to two types of toys: 1) toys clearly intended for use by children under 36 months and their component parts and any of their detachable parts, and 2) other toys which are intended to be put in the mouth, such as toy instruments, and their component parts and any of their detachable parts. Component parts and detachable parts refer to any small part that might be present on the whole toy, not only to the mouthpiece of the toy. If the toy to be placed in the mouth is sold together with other toys (whistle with ball, trumpet with drum), than only the toy intended to be put in the mouth is envisaged. These kinds of toys should be of such dimension as to prevent their being swallowed or inhaled. This risk has generally been called “choking” risk.”
When comparing the Mail article with the EU Directive and the Act of Parliament which implemented the Directive into British law there is, in the words of the old song “Life Gets Tedious, Don’t It”: something cockeyed somewhere.
Digressing slightly, from Wikipedia we find that there are in fact differing sizes of footballs and 25in seems to fall twixt size 3 and 4, so a 25in football would, it would seem, comply with law 2.
Within the subject of toy safety neither must we forget the input of the World Trade Organisation and their TBT Committee (Technical Barriers to Trade) among whose remit is safety regulations for toys, a committee that in 2008 was discussing the EU’s apparent opposition to Brazil”s proposals on toys.
It would seem that either there has been a bit of ‘gold-plating’ carried out somewhere which I have not found or – as seems more likely – Bellco Sports are covering their backs just in case a budding politician with the requisite big mouth does manage to swallow 25in of football prior to reaching the age of 36 months.
Afterthought: As our politicians appear to have the mentality and thought processes of a pre-36-month-old child – and a big mouth – perhaps Bellco Sports have been quite cute.