Christmas shoppers are being warned to avoid buying toys, including L.O.L Surprise! Dolls, that could pose risks such as choking, to children.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has said that counterfeit versions of popular children’s toys contain harmful phthalates, which are chemical compounds that can damage organs and the reproductive system.

The organisation is also urging consumers to look for the CE safety standard mark on toys to ensure they have been verified as safe.

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Shoppers should also look out for grammar and spelling errors on packaging, buy from well-known and reputable outlets, and avoid cheap offers that look too good to be true, because they probably are.

Fake toys are more common than you’d think, with latest figures showing that more than  4.2 million counterfeit products, including toys, were seized by councils over the last year.

Simon Blackburn, chairman of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “Christmas is a hotbed for criminals who put profit before safety by selling dangerous, counterfeit toys at cheap prices to unsuspecting shoppers.

Some recently seized toys (LGA)

“Bargain hunters need to be aware that fake, substandard toys can break and cause injuries or pose choking hazards, toxic materials can cause burns and serious harm, while illegal electrical toys can lead to fires or electrocution.”

The LGA’s advice comes days after more than 54,000 teddy bears were destroyed in Suffolk after an inspection found they posed a choking hazard.

Additionally, fake toys were among nearly 9,000 items recently seized by Manchester City Council officers.

The counterfeit goods were modelled on products from brands including Marvel, Lego and Disney.

Some of the toys poses a choking hazard while others that boasted audio features exceeded legal decibel limits for toys that, when used repeatedly, could damage a child’s hearing

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