Ikea China accused of selling children furniture that fails safety standard

IKEA in Shanghai has been accused of selling furniture aimed at children that fails to meet safety standards.

Photo: Bloomberg

The city’s quality watchdogs yesterday visited the Swedish home furnishings giant’s store in Pudong New Area.

Officers discovered that items on sale in the children’s furniture section had sharp edges – prohibited under China’s national standard on children’s furniture introduced last August.

However, officials said they cannot take action as the Ikea items are not formally categorized as children’s furniture. Descriptions and instructions neither state that they are children’s furniture nor specify an intended age group.

The General Technical Requirements for Children’s Furniture clarifies limits on harmful substances in children’s furniture and specify safety criteria in design.

Requirements include that edges should be rounded; glass should not be used below 1.6 meters in cabinets; and that wall fittings be installed on cabinet products that are higher than 60 centimeters.

These apply to furniture for children between the ages of three and 14.

At the store, officials of the Shanghai Quality and Technical Supervision Bureau said a “Galant” range desk on sale at the children’s furniture area had sharp corners, posing a danger to children.

While child-sized, the desk’s label description and user instructions do not say that it is children’s furniture. Ikea staff though conceded that the 549 yuan (US$88.54) desk could be used by children.

However, city officials said they were powerless to order Ikea to take action or impose a punishment as the standard only applies to children’s furniture.

Safety experts said sharp edges are a big concern in furniture used by children.

“Sharp edges and an absence of warnings are the major problems in children’s furniture,” said Lu Wei, an official with the National Furniture Quality Testing Center.

Lu suggested parents use a coin to gauge whether furniture edges are rounded enough before buying.

Some parents expressed concerns at Ikea. “If the furniture is sold in the children’s furniture area, I assume it is used by kids,” said local mother Guo Aijing.

She said that she always carefully checks the edges of children’s furniture items when buying them.

Officials also found problems with Ikea items that were classified as children’s furniture.

Bureau officials found some pieces of furniture came without the appropriate instructions or details of standards, both required under the regulations.

Some furniture samples from the Ikea store will be sent to laboratories for further tests, said Wu Xuetao, a bureau official.

Ikea had not responded to the accusations by last night.

Vivian Tang, a public relations official with Ikea Shanghai, said a statement may be released tomorrow.

Source: Shanghai Daily

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