Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Hon Kris Faafoi is taking an unprecedented step to get button battery manufacturers and retailers to make their products safer for New Zealand consumers.
Mr Faafoi says New Zealand is one of the first in the world to enact a Product Safety Policy Statement, which gives the industry a proactive opportunity to make products safer for New Zealanders.
‘Most households have many products which use button batteries – from novelty musical cards to watches and remote controls. The small size can cause a serious health risk if swallowed, especially for children,’ says Mr Faafoi.
‘While button batteries are a necessary power source for many consumer goods, their use has to be weighed up with the more important priority, which is consumer safety.’
In New Zealand, as many as 20 children are hospitalised at Starship Hospital from ingesting button batteries each year and some require serious emergency operations.
As button batteries are manufactured offshore, the policy statement targets New Zealand suppliers and retailers, advising them on how to improve packaging, display and disposal, while also encouraging innovative ways to make them safer.
‘This is a necessary step to improve the safety of children and families,’ says Mr Faafoi. ‘I’ll be asking officials to closely monitor safety outcomes over the next few years as the industry responds to this.’
This article was first published in Beehive News on 2 February 2018.
- a summary of the Product safety policy statement: Button batteries; safer products and packaging – policy statement at a glance (Consumer Protection website)
- the full Product Safety Policy Statement – Button batteries; safer products and packaging (PDF).