Injuries from toys in food prompt study by Parliament

Author (Person)
Series Title
Series Details Vol.7, No.42, 15.11.01, p23
Publication Date 15/11/2001
Content Type

Date: 15/11/01

By Peter Chapman

THE European Parliament has ordered a study into injuries caused by toys in foods such as chocolate eggs.

The assembly's scientific and technological options assessment unit, STOA, has commissioned independent researchers to carry out a report on the issue.

The results of the €13,000 study, scheduled for delivery next spring, follow demands from British MEP Phillip Whitehead and Greek colleague Minerva Malliori for tougher safety standards.

They fear that 'inedibles' could be responsible for many injuries - and deaths - across the EU every year.

The European Commission has failed to act despite calls for a proper study collating data from hospitals and research institutes across the Union, they say. However, industry figures insist that parents have nothing to fear.

In a letter to European Voice this week Pier Aldo Oldano, general manager for chocolate manufacturer Ferrero in Belgium, disputed claims that seven children had died after choking on toys in chocolate eggs or cereal packs.

The Italian company, which makes Kinder Surprise chocolate eggs, says 15 billion chocolate eggs have been marketed since the toy safety directive came into force in 1991 - with no fatal accident ever reported.

The figure of seven deaths over a 10-15 year period, and 2,000 injuries per year across the EU, was reported by researchers at Athens University medical school. They said toys in eggs were the main cause of the problems.

Former TV producer Whitehead said the issue went "far beyond any particular brand of chocolate egg".

Malliori echoed this, adding the understandable reluctance of some parents to admit they had given their children products which caused injury had made it more difficult to collect accurate data - thus hidding the true number of accidents. "Mums feel guilty," she said.

Whitehead also rejected Ferrero's claims that only one parent had visited the EU institutions to table concerns over the toys. "The person who came to Brussels represented other bereaved parents and not merely herself," he said. He also rebutted claims by Ferrero that no action was taken after Parliament considered his petition on the issue last year.

He said the petitions committee had referred the issue to the Parliament's environment committee and that talks were ongoing with Health Commissioner David Byrne's department.

The European Parliament has ordered a study into injuries caused by toys in foods such as chocolate eggs.

Subject Categories
Record URL