Dangerous counterfeit goods

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This warning, issued by Cheshire East, is another good reason to do your Christmas Gift shopping in the village

We are well into the Christmas shopping period and parents may well be feeling the pressure to buy the latest 'must-have' toys for their children and presents for friends and family.

Budgets are stretched and stores are selling out, so some shoppers might be tempted to look at cheaper versions available online or in the high street. But this is also where counterfeit traders are taking advantage and cashing in.

Recently, and in previous festive shopping periods, counterfeit items such as make-up, perfumes, children's toys and candles have been seized by Cheshire East Council's trading standards service.

The service is warning shoppers to be on their guard that 'sold out' toys available on online, or bargain versions of well known brands, may not be all that they seem.

Tests on counterfeit toys and goods have revealed they could pose numerous hazards with small, loose parts, long cords or contain materials that are toxic or do not conform to fire retardant standards.

Counterfeit make-up can contain lead, copper, mercury, arsenic or cadmium and can cause swelling, rashes, poisoning and have a toxic effect on skin and eyes. Poor quality and missing components in fake electrical goods and chargers can lead to electric shocks, fires and explosions.

Tracey Bettaney, Cheshire East Council's regulatory services and health manager, said: "Shoppers should take a cautious approach and always do their research on the seller when uncovering what appears to be a bargain.

"Check the reviews and look for details of the name and address of the manufacturer/importer, look for the signs on a product that shows it has been manufactured to given guidelines, such as displaying appropriate warnings, is being provided with instructions and only buy from reputable traders.

"Counterfeiting operations cut corners, so their products are likely to be poor quality, with significantly shorter lifespans than those from legitimate businesses. As they do not meet required safety standards, they also put users at risk."

A recent seizure of suspected counterfeit Jo Malone candles has raised specific safety concerns as previous tests have led to the glass casing exploding.

Possessing, offering for sale or selling counterfeit goods, or using registered trademarks on labelling or packaging without consent, can carry up to 10 years' imprisonment.

More information and advice about buying safe goods is available here.