Calls to stop dangerous toys being sold online after two-year-old nearly dies

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    The mother of a two-year-old girl from Essex, who nearly died when she swallowed some magnets, has called for a change in the law to stop dangerous toys being sold online. 

Rebecca McCarthy from Basildon had to have emergency surgery after she mistook magnets bought online from Ebay for sweets.

Hospital x-rays revealed the magnets were so strong that they had linked together inside Rebecca's body and ruptured three parts of her intestine.

"They warned me this was serious surgery, so I signed my baby's life away that morning", Sam said.

"I said do whatever you need to do, just save my baby, save her. All I did was buy a toy, that is all I did, I didn't feed my baby magnets, I didn't leave her unattended with them."

"I had my husband kissing his daughter goodbye."

The magnets Sam bought online for her son last Christmas. Credit: ITV Anglia

Sam is calling for tougher laws to prevent unchecked toys being sold by third-party dealers and is urging the government to take urgent action "before any other child is critically injured or even dies.”

In a statement a spokesperson for eBay said: "“We take the safety of our users extremely seriously and we’re sorry to hear of Ms McCarthy’s experience. "

"Our teams also work around the clock as an additional safety net to manually review and remove anything which may not have been caught by our filters.

 "In the event of a product listing being found to be unsafe, authorities can use eBay’s Regulatory Portal to immediately remove such listings, educate the seller and warn any buyers. In parallel, eBay identifies and removes such listings as well as educates sellers and warns any buyers too. This process is part of our ongoing commitment to prevent the sale of unsafe items on our marketplace.”

Rebecca swallowed the magnet toy in February.

Nearly half of the toys being sold on online marketplaces by third-party sellers are dangerous, the British Toy and Hobby Association said.

In its latest report, “Still toying with children’s safety”, the association found that 48 per cent of toys currently on sale could choke, strangle, burn, poison or electrocute children.

The BTHA, which represents British toy manufacturers, has launched a new campaign calling for the government to urgently change the law surrounding the sale of children’s toys via online marketplaces.

There is currently no legal requirement for online marketplaces to check the safety of the products third-party sellers are listing.

This responsibility is left to the individual sellers, who “are often based overseas, outside the jurisdiction of UK enforcement”, the BTHA said.

The BTHA found 88% were illegal and 48% were unsafe for a child to play with.

So how can you be sure the toy you buy your child is safe? (source: BTHA)

  • Check for an address for the supplier in the UK or the EU so you can contact them if something goes wrong

  • Look to see if they toy has The Lion Mark to make sure it complies with UK standards

  • Do you research

  • Be careful about purchasing a toy for the lowest price as it could be fake

  • Check it has a CE mark - it shows that the product complies with the EU's Toy Safety Directive

For a link to the BTHA petition which is trying to put pressure on the government to take action click here