Walmart Magnet Set Recall Issued Due to Child Ingestion Risks

Recall comes following reports of similar sets causing at least seven child deaths and thousands of magnet ingestion injuries in recent years.

Federal safety officials are recalling thousands of high-powered magnetic toy sets sold exclusively through Walmart, due to a risk that children may accidentally swallow and ingest the small magnets, which can attract to each other across intestinal walls and cause life-threatening injuries.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced the Relax magnetic ball recall on December 28, indicating the toy sets do not comply with federal regulations because they contain high-powered magnet balls that can easily be swallowed by small children, and the magnets are stronger than the CPSC rules permit.

The sets contain ball-shaped stones made of rare earth metals, which have a strong magnetic force that allows the magnets to connect to each other, or form into various shapes and designs. The products are marketed as adult desk toys, which can be used as building blocks or stress relievers. However, they are often used as children’s toys, and can cause devastating injuries if the small parts are accidentally swallowed.

While no injuries have been reported in relation to the recalled Walmart magnetic ball sets, officials warn that if the powerful magnets are ingested, they can attract to each other, or other metal objects, and become lodged in the digestive tract. This can cut off the blood supply to important organs, lead to perforations, twisting or blockages of the intestine, infections, blood poisoning, and even death.

Relax Magnetic Ball Recall

The recall impacts approximately 4,240 Relax 5mm Science Kit, Large Hematite Magnets Magnetic Stones Building Blocks, which contain sets of 216-piece multi-colored magnetic balls encased in a clear, plastic case with a storage box and bag included.

They were sold exclusively online on Walmart.com through Joybuy Marketplace Express. The products were distributed from February 2022 until April 2023 for between $14 and $15.

Consumers are instructed to contact Joybuy to request a pre-paid label to return their recalled products and receive a full refund. Joybuy Marketplace Express can be contacted collect at 302-426-4543 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT, Monday through Friday, by email at oversea-service@jd.com, or online at https://www.walmart.com/seller/16214.

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 Magnetic Toy Injury Risks

Officials have been concerned about the devastating effects high-powered magnet ingestions have on children for years. The CPSC indicates approximately 2,400 magnet ingestion injuries were treated in hospital emergency departments between 2017 and 2021. At least seven deaths have been linked to high-powered magnet ingestion, including two that occurred outside of the U.S.

In 2012, the CPSC determined that even improved warning labels could not make magnetic toys safer, and requested 13 manufacturers issue voluntary recalls and stop sales. Two manufacturers refused to comply, prompting the agency to file rare administrative complaints against them, allowing officials to enforce an involuntary Buckyball recall and Zen Magnets recall. It was the first time in 11 years that the agency took the regulatory action.

In October 2014, the CPSC enacted toy magnet safety rules, in an attempt to ban certain toy sets from the consumer market. The rules imposed minimum size requirements for magnet toys to prevent swallowing risks, and certain strength requirements to reduce injury risks.

However, one manufacturer, Zen Magnets, LLC, challenged the rules in court, and they were overturned in 2016, allowing magnet sales to continue. A day later, Zen Magnets and the U.S. Department of Justice entered into a consent agreement (PDF) on a $5.5 million civil penalty aimed at the company for illegally selling more than 400,000 recalled magnets. The civil penalty required Zen Magnets to pay only $10,000.

Research published in 2021 found that magnet ingestion injuries increased more than 400% after the ban was reversed, and the CPSC reported more than 26,000 ingestion injuries required treatment in an emergency room between 2010 and 2021. This prompted new federal safety standards for high-powered magnet products to be introduced in September 2022, which required loose or separable magnets to be a certain size and magnetic strength.

Earlier this month, the CPSC issued two similar magnetic toy safety alerts, warning consumers to stop using Life Changing Products 216-piece Magnetic Ball sets and TOCTOC Magnetic Ball sets. Officials indicate the magnet sets do not meet mandatory regulations, as the pieces are too small and create too strong of a magnetic field.

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