Before everyone starts hoarding toys in their real lives and online shopping carts this Black Friday, consumer advocates in Illinois have a message: Be careful.

Many dangerous, recalled toys are still readily available online new report by the US Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) Education Fund, which was discussed at a press conference Tuesday at Lurie Children’s Hospital. The researchers behind the report searched 16 recalled toys and found 11 of them on the Facebook marketplace, eBay and some online toy stores.

“We were able to find toys that were recalled days, weeks, months, and even years after the recall,” said Abe Scarr, director of the Illinois PIRG Education Fund.

The toys included army figures that were recalled last month due to excessive levels of phthalates and lead; a colorful, looped toy that was recalled because it presented a choking hazard; and the play tent was recalled because it did not meet industry flammability standards, according to the report. Other recalled products included a ride-on toy for toddlers, bath toys and a stuffed animal.

According to the report, in 2020, nearly 200,000 people, including 79,000 children aged 4 and under, went to emergency departments for toy-related injuries.

“Recalled products should have no place in our markets or in our homes,” said Nancy Cowles, executive director of the Chicago advocacy group Kids in Danger. “Sad news about most of the recalls you see here today, along with those in the guide, almost all of them will remain in use and in homes because companies are doing such a poor job alerting families to recalls.”

She said she would like companies to deal with recalls in the same way they deal with toy marketing, such as trying to reach consumers through social media ads and influencers.

“Parents may not hear about the cancellation if they don’t listen or pay attention to the news on the day,” she said.

She said it was worrying that researchers were able to find so many recalled toys for sale online. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, federal law prohibits any person from selling recalled products.

The researchers behind the report said that after they had already received several toys, eBay sent an email warning them that the toys had been recalled and not to use them. Four other sellers canceled their purchases before the items were shipped.

None of the other retailers warned the researchers that the toys had been recalled, according to the report.

In a statement, eBay said: “eBay works closely with a number of regulatory agencies around the world to promote product safety and protect consumers from unsafe products. We take product recalls very seriously and monitor announcements from the (Consumer Product Safety Commission) to ensure recalled products are blocked or removed. We are pleased that the PIRG team received one of our product recall notices, demonstrating our commitment to monitoring and notifying consumers of recalls.”

Facebook’s parent company Meta said Tuesday that its policies prohibit the sale of recalled products and that it is working with interest groups, manufacturers, governments and regulators to identify recalled goods. Facebook enforces its trade policies through its trade rating system, which is largely automated and reviews item listings before posting them.

Researchers were unable to find any of the recalled toys on Amazon.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission told researchers it had expanded its online commerce team last year and filed more than 54,000 online content takedown requests.

Parents and others buying toys this holiday season can do their part by staying vigilant and watching for red flags, consumer advocates and doctors said Tuesday.

If someone has trouble finding the toy they are looking for and then suddenly finds it at a low price, it may be a counterfeit. Counterfeit toys are counterfeit branded toys that may not meet mandatory US safety standards.

Buyers can also determine if a toy poses a choking hazard by checking that it fits inside a toilet paper tube. If it fits, it may not be safe for young children.

Scarr said that when buying used toys or donating old toys, parents should check for signs of wear that could make a toy unsafe.

The Illinois Attorney General’s office is also urging parents to review it before making any purchases safe shopping guidewhich contains photos and descriptions of nearly 100 recalled toys and children’s products.

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