TRADING standards chiefs have launched a desperate recall of potentially toxic children’s dolls that can cause cancer after they were sold in Hartlepool as Christmas presents.
An investigation has been launched after traces of the poisonous chemical phthalates were found in similar dolls.
The items have now been taken from the shelves while tests are carried out on them, but a probe has discovered that up to 16 of the dolls had been sold by market stall FC Richardson’s Toy Box.
Parents who may have bought the cuddly dolls, which have a picture of an animal on their clothing, are being urged to keep them away from their children.
The circumstances surrounding the purchase of the dolls, and their subsequent sale, is being investigated.
It is suspected the dolls may be one of a variety of toys which come from China and have been subject to a previous national product recall.
There are several designs of the “laughing dolls” including a crawling doll with a polka dress, a baby doll with a picture of an animal on the dress and “fruit head” dolls.
Official’s from Hartlepool’s trading standards team are very concerned they may contain the phthalates chemical, which is used to soften plastics.
Phthalates, when consumed, has been associated with causing cancer, deformities in unborn babies and infertility in men.
Officers say the stall had been selling the dolls since early December, though it is possible that other traders have also been selling them.
Rachael Readman, of Hartlepool Borough Council’s Trading Standards team, said: “Whilst we do not want to cause unnecessary alarm, we want to make parents aware to ensure that children have no contact with these dolls.
“Young babies in particular will often chew soft toys and there is a real concern that they could be at risk.
“The remaining stock of dolls has been handed over by the trader and we are waiting on formal analysis before we can confirm if the dolls contain phthalates.
“An investigation on how the dolls came to be on sale in Hartlepool is ongoing.
“I would encourage anyone who may have purchased one of these dolls as a Christmas present for a child to ensure the child’s parent is aware of our concerns.
“We would also welcome any information about other traders who may be retailing these dolls, unaware of the product recall.”
Anyone who has brought one of the dolls from FC Richardson’s Toy Box is urged to return it to the market stall immediately where they will obtain a full refund, even without a receipt of purchase.
For more information, or if residents have any concerns about any toys they have purchased, people are urged to contact the Trading Standards Team on (01429) 523362.