Glittery slime, unicorn slime, farting slime… kids’ love of the sticky stuff is showing no signs of waning.
But, a worrying new investigation has revealed that more than 40% of the slimes and putties topping Christmas wish-lists have failed the EU safety standard for toys.
Consumer watchdog Which? tested 13 toy slimes and putties from a range of high-street and online retailers including Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Argos and Hamleys.
It found that five of the slimes were over the EU safety limit for the chemical boron.
According to Which? the EU safety limit is 300mg/kg for slime and 1,200mg/kg for putty.
What is boron and why is it potentially dangerous?
Boron is found in borax, a common ingredient in slime that helps give it its stickiness. Also known as sodium borate, borax has a range of household uses including as an insecticide, a stain remover and a deodoriser.
But borax, a naturally occurring mineral, is also a mild irritant and there have been concerns over children’s safety following reports of it inducing burns.
And while over-exposure to the mineral can cause skin irritation, diarrhoea, vomiting and cramps in the short-term, experts are concerned that the long-term risks may be way more serious.
According to the European commission, very high levels of boron may also impair fertility and could cause harm to unborn babies in the womb.
Following the investigation Hamleys has stopped selling Frootiputti, manufactured by Goobands. The product was found to have four times the permitted limit.
While Hamleys disagreed with Which?’s categorisation of the products as slime, instead describing it as putty, which would mean it met the EU standard, the store decided to remove the product as a “precautionary measure.”
“Ensuring the safety and trust of our customers is one of our core values as a business, and we will never compromise on the safety of our products,” a spokesperson for Hamleys told Which?
“We work closely with our suppliers and manufacturers to ensure all products meet the legal standards for toy safety.
“As a precautionary measure we have made the decision to remove all Goobands Frootiputti from our stores while we investigate this matter further.”
What the experts say
Commenting on the findings Nikki Stopford, director of research and publishing at Which?, said: “Slime will feature in many kids’ letters to Santa this Christmas, however we’ve found more worrying evidence that children could be put at risk by these toys.
“Parents should have confidence that the products that they buy for their children will be safe, but our latest investigation has uncovered harmful products being sold even by big retailers.
“Again, we’re calling on manufacturers to stop making unsafe products, and for the government and retailers to step up and do a much better job of ensuring only safe products get into people’s homes and into the hands of children.”
What to do if you’ve bought your child slime for Christmas?
If parents have bought one of the affected slimes, Which?’s advice is to stop playing with it immediately.
“You may be able to return the unsafe slime to the manufacturer for a refund or safe replacement using 14-day online or store returns policies,” their webpage says.
“If that’s not an option you may be able to cite your Consumer Rights Act rights, on the basis that these products are unsafe and so of unsatisfactory quality and unfit for purpose.”
Slime became one of 2017’s biggest crazes, with millions of people sharing pictures on Instagram and watching slime-making videos on YouTube.
Back in July Which? found that eight out of 11 toy slimes tested exceeded the EU safety limit.
Though many experts insist borax is safe if it is diluted and not ingested, if you want to be super careful you could always make your own non borax version.
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