26 May 2023

NZME fined more than $80,000 for supplying unsafe magnetic toys

12:25 pm on 26 May 2023
Signage outside the Auckland District Court

The Commerce Commission took the company to Auckland District Court where it pleaded guilty and was fined $87,750. Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

NZME Advisory has been fined just under $88,000 for supplying unsafe magnetic puzzle toys that a child swallowed and had to have surgically removed.

The toys - known as buckyballs - were made up of small, high-powered magnetic balls and sold via the company's previously-owned GrabOne website between October 2020 and September 2021.

The company, which has since sold the site, sold 213 of the magnetic toys, which breached an unsafe goods notice which bans the supply of any magnets, sold in sets of two or more, that are a particular size and strength.

NZME recalled the sets and contacted customers to notify them of the recall after being contacted by the Commerce Commission.

The commission's general manager of fair trading Kirsten Mannix said the magnets were banned for health and safety reasons.

"The ban exists because if more than one of the magnets are swallowed, they can attract to each other within the body which is extremely dangerous," she said.

"Tragically, we are aware of one case in New Zealand where a child did swallow two of the magnets from one of the magnetic toys supplied by NZME, and significant surgery was required to remove them."

The commission took the company to Auckland District Court where it pleaded guilty and was fined $87,750.

Mannix said it was vital that businesses understood their obligations when advertising and supplying products for sale.

"Every year we carry out unannounced visits to retailers engaging with them about the product safety laws in place and checking that the toys on the shelves are compliant," she said.

"Since 2017 we have prosecuted 30 businesses and issued formal warnings to another 32 businesses, relating to the supply of non-compliant products."