Most retailers are being as careful as they can about keeping unsafe toys off their shelves, but undercover shoppers say despite regulations and warnings, local stores are still stocking toys that pose a health or safety threat to kids.
Part of the problem is retailers can't always tell if there's an issue with what they're getting from distributors and manufacturers. Beyond that, federal inspectors only catch a fraction of the problem merchandise when it comes into the country.
"There's been a lot of progress, but not enough," said Washpirg's Tonina Bellante.
The local Public Interest Research Group spent parts of September and October buying toys for their annual Trouble in Toyland report. They found a number of toys that either fail the test for choking hazards, pose a noise hazard to young ears or exceed safety limits for toxic chemicals and metals.
In its report, the non-profit consumer watchdog group shines the spotlight on specific toys, and names the names of the retail stores where the toys were purchased. This year's list of potential hazardous includes imported toys from discount and dollar stores, as well as high-profile stores from throughout the greater Seattle area. Bellante urged anyone shopping for toys to be especially vigilant about inspecting quality and being aware of what to look for.
"We want parents to realize that it's actually not as simple as just buying anything that's on the shelves. But you actually need to really be cautious about the things that you're buying because like you can see, there's a lot of toys out there that pose potential hazards," Bellante said.