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Yo-Yo Ball safety in doubt

Yo-Yo Ball safety in doubt

The Minister of Consumer Affairs, Judith Tizard, has issued a public caution over a children’s toy, the ‘Yo-Yo Ball’, and asked the Ministry of Consumer Affairs to investigate its safety, after the toy was recently banned in the United Kingdom.

Yo-Yo Balls are low-priced toys, a little smaller than a tennis ball, made from a soft rubber material, and filled with a liquid. They are covered in small nodules and have a stretchy rubber strap with a finger loop at the end. The material is highly elastic and can stretch from 250mm, in its resting state, to over one and a half metres.

“I am concerned that the design of the toy encourages children to swing it round their heads to see how far it stretched, or to lasso objects,” says Judith Tizard.

Between 30,000 and 45,000 Yo-Yo Balls have been imported recently into New Zealand. They first appeared on the domestic market in November 2002, but most seem to have been sold in February/March this year.

“The Yo-Yo Ball can pose a hazard if it is whirled and the extended strap wraps around a child's throat. They can wrap very tightly and be difficult to remove. Instances of this occurring have been reported in the UK, France, Switzerland and the USA. As a result, the product has been banned in the UK, and other countries are considering options for action.

“To date, there have been no reported incidents in New Zealand. An additional concern, however, is that the Yo-Yo Ball has a kerosene odour, which may indicate the possibility of toxic content,” says Judith Tizard.

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs and Australian fair trading agencies are working with their overseas counterparts to identify the nature of the problem and to obtain any available test results. The Ministry of Consumer Affairs has approached known suppliers of the product and obtained their agreement to suspend further sales and imports until the problem has been fully explored.

“In the meantime it is important that consumers are made aware of the possible hazard with this toy. I don’t want to spoil the fun that sensible use of this toy can bring, but parents and caregivers need to be aware of the potential harm these toys can cause, and take the necessary action.

“I advise parents and caregivers, whose children have the product, to check how it is being used and, if they have any concerns, to dispose of it. The Ministry would also like to hear from anyone who may have had a problem with this product,” says Judith Tizard.

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