Dangerous dolls: What you need to know

Some of the 'fruit-head' design of dolls Credit: Sandwell Council

Warnings over 'dangerous dolls' flooding UK markets have been circulated widely on social media in recent weeks.

It comes as trading standards across the UK revealed they had seized dolls on sale in Kent and Lincolnshire, as well as other areas.

ITV News Central first reported on the dangers of the dolls in January, but as the dolls once again seem to be appearing on our shelves, here is what you need to know.

The dangers

The dolls have been found to contain phthalates, a banned chemical which is used in some countries to soften plastics and is highly dangerous if consumed.

The full effects of phthalates are not fully understood, but tests have shown they disrupt the activity of hormones.

Exposure to the chemical has also been linked to cancer, deformities in unborn babies and infertility in men.

What do they look like?

There are several different designs of dolls thought to contain the chemical.

These include:

  • The 'fruit-head' doll, which have hats shaped like strawberries, apples, tomatoes, blackcurrants and pineapples

  • 'Crawling' dolls which are on their belly and wear a polka dot dress

  • Baby dolls with a picture of an animals head on the dress

  • Plain plastic baby dolls with painted-on hair and eyes

One of the 'crawling'-style baby dolls Credit: Sandwell Council

What do I do if I think I have one of the dolls?

Trading standards officers advise anyone buying a toy to take care when picking one up from market stalls, discount stores and pop-up toy shops.

Always check the doll for the CE mark, which indicates that it has been tested and meets EU regulations and standards. However, as some of the dolls have been found with fake CE marks, this does not necessarily mean the toy is safe.

If you are concerned, take the toy away from your children until you are sure it is safe for them to play with.

Keep hold of receipts and return the toy to the store if you are not fully satisfied.

Anyone with any concerns is urged to call trading standards on 0845 404 0506 for further advice.

Some of the 'animal outfit' dolls Credit: Sandwell Council

Are they just in the UK?

No - the toys are currently subject to a Europe-wide recall due to the banned chemical being found in the plastics, though many reports suggest they are still on sale in some tourist destinations.

In November, US customs officers seized around 200,000 dolls over 10 shipments which were found to contain phthalates.

They had come from China and were being imported into cities including Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Memphis, Tennessee.