Manchester

Face paints poison danger warning by trading standards

Children's face paints containing dangerous levels of lead are on sale in shops, trading standards officials have warned.

Tests found Tarton Collection Kits, imported from China, contained lead, which can damage the nervous system.

Salford-based Chelford Limited, which imported the paints, was ordered by magistrates to pay more than £14,000 for breaching product safety laws.

Only 300 of the 7,200 kits sold on to shops in the UK have been recovered.

A second batch of 7,200 kits, which each contain stencils and five pots of paints, was ordered by Chelford Limited, but was intercepted by Salford trading standards officials.

Lead 'damages organs'

They launched an investigation last year after officers bought a sample from Pound Paradise in Salford and discovered the yellow-coloured pots were toxic.

They recalled the product from the shelves but it is not known how many sets have been bought or used.

Gareth Hollingsworth, Salford City Council's senior trading standards officer, said: "I'm hoping there is not any cases of lead poisoning but these have gone to all four corners of the UK and without having results from hospitals about lead toxicity it is quite hard to comment."

An expert report by the council said lead toxicity can damage almost every organ and is especially dangerous to young children even at low levels.

The regulations say lead in the paint pots should be around 20 parts per million but analysts found they were at the level of 16,900 parts per million.

'Very dangerous'

Salford mayor Ian Stewart said: "It's very worrying, especially at this time of year, that these dangerous items have found their way on to the high street.

"It's really important that the public are extremely vigilant. These sets can be very dangerous, particularly to small children."

Manchester magistrates fined import and export agent Chelford £12,000 and ordered the firm to pay £2,670 costs after it admitted failing to comply with safety regulations and supplying a cosmetic product that could harm health.

Company managing director Joel Cope, 39, of Lancaster Drive, Prestwich, was also fined £1,200 and ordered to pay costs of £1,200.

'Misleading advice'

Chelford's website describes the firm as "the UK's leading importer specialising in keyrings and stationery".

Toby Sasse, who represented Chelford Limited and Cope in court, said his clients had co-operated with the investigation and admitted guilt.

He said the firm had been given misleading advice by consultants who suggested he was complying with the correct regulations in the UK and Cope had been carrying out further testing of the paints when trading standards became involved.

The company declined to comment.

Anyone with the face paint set is asked to contact their local trading standards.

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