Market watch officials and technological experts have warned parents to pay more attention to the quality of toys they purchase to better protect their children.

If a toy does not have a trademark or does not meet quality norms, customers should not buy it, the Ministry of Science and Technology (MST)'s chief inspector Tran Minh Dung said.

The warning was issued after an inspection conducted in August and September by the ministry discovered violations related to the quality of children's toys.

During the inspection, more than 1,700 manufacturers, importers and trading companies were checked, and nearly 700 were found to have violated quality regulations, which could endanger children.

The inspectors issued administrative fines of more than 430 million VND (20,400 USD) to violators and destroyed some 20,000 violent toys that had unclear origins and trademarks.

An anonymous toy seller in Hanoi's Luong Van Can Street, said that she has sold children's toys for more than 10 years, but no customers ever inquire about the toys' trademarks or quality norms.

She often purchased large numbers of toys from the northern border province of Lang Son. She only knew that the toys were made in China and she did not care which companies manufactured these toys or how they were produced.

Her shops have some Vietnamese toys with clear trademarks, however, few people ask for these toys since their colours and shapes were not attractive.

"The children prefer cars, motorbikes, dolls and cartoon characters, which no Vietnamese company produce, whereas the ones made in China are beautiful and look the same as the children's favourite characters," she said.

Nguyen Mai Phuong, a customer, said when buying toys for her children, she only paid attention to the toys' colours and shapes, not their trademarks.

"However, only Chinese words are printed on the toys' packaging, so I cannot have any information about the toys, even if I want to," she added.

Importing businesses in Vietnam should work more closely with manufacturers in China so the toys to be sold meet quality norms for children, said Phuong.

Nguyen Thi Nhu Mai, director of the Hanoi Market Watch, said controlling children's toys face many obstacles, since the city has so few inspectors.

During each inspection period, inspectors can check only about 20 percent of the shops in the city, and most are located in the inner city.

Moreover, equipment to check the quality of the toys is so out of date that inspectors cannot issue timely penalties.

Mai suggested that inspectors at different levels publish lists of shops and enterprises that are violating regulations so the public can avoid purchasing from these shops.

Also, she said, schools should explain about dangerous toys to their students.

Of note, the city market watch will include inspections of children's toys in their inspections before the Lunar New Year holiday, which will fall in early February next year.

Chief inspector Dung said the number of violations has not increased compared with previous years, however, it is a reminder to children's toy managers to pay more attention to the control of the manufacturing process.

Also, stricter oversights should be placed on toy importing companies, especially in their implementation of regulations on technological norms.

And authorities at different levels should more closely watch the market to prevent illegally imported toys, said Dung.-VNA