Secret Report: Imported Toys Didn't Undergo Safety Test

As many as 1,500 marketing permits were issued without any inspection, say sources near Standards Institution of Israel.

Are the toys we buy for our children safe? Some may not be: A secret internal report at the Standards Institution of Israel reveals a significant number of imported toys were not inspected to see if they meet Israeli standards.

According to the SII, the problem boils down to one employee who failed to bring products for inspection as required. He will be moved to another job but won't be fired, the institute said.

As many as 1,500 marketing permits were issued without any inspection of the toys, say sources near the SII. The deviations from procedure continued for a year and a half and the products are now in stores, they say. For its part, the SII denies that permits were issued for untested products.

The worker in question is a member of the company's union, said the sources, and he's still on the job despite the legal counsel urging to suspend him. Also, despite the gravity of the findings, the SII is keeping the report confidential and refused to give TheMarker a copy on the grounds that it didn't have "legal permission" to release it.

Imported toys are inspected by sampling at Ashdod Port on their arrival. The sample is sent to the SII laboratory for inspection.

Last July, the SII installed a new computer system. Two months were spent fixing its bugs. Then in September and October the system detected that toys supposed to be arriving for lab inspection had never been sent.

Did these toys reach the market? Sources TheMarker talked with said they did. If these uninspected toys reached the market, said the SII, then the importers were in noncompliance with the rules.

The SII, for its part, said it uncovered a problem with the sampling and testing procedure during routine control processes, and insisted (several times ) that no marketing permits were issued for untested products. The problem was at the port, it said - the sampler didn't do his job and the SII system detected it. The SII then commenced a thorough inquiry, it said, and took steps against the errant employee.

The SII spokesman stated that the institute had not been derelict in its duty to protect consumers.

Asked about allegations that the problem went on for a year and a half, the IBI stated that the problem was detected for two months, September and October, and it can't know what went on beforehand because the new system hadn't been in place. It also said the errant worker is on a long vacation out of the country, and that no new position has been found for him yet.

Were marketing permits for 1,500 uninspected products issued, as alleged? "The number is much lower," stated the SII spokesman. "The products had not been approved for marketing and if indeed they did get into the market, it was without our permission. The system uncovered it. Every product on the list has been reinspected. If we find that something has been overlooked, we will announce it."

The spokesman deflected a question about how the errant worker explained his failure to sample toy shipments for inspection: "It isn't relevant. He isn't in that job anymore. He didn't do his job so he can't have it. If we had proven some alien motive, we'd have gone to the police. We've done that before. The important thing is whether anybody was imperiled, and if a bribe had been given." There was no evidence of that, he added.