Six products tested by consumer watchdog Which? found that the products exceeded the safe levels of the chemical borax as stipulated by EU regulations.
Over-exposure can cause skin irritation, diarrhoea, vomiting and cramps in the short term. According to the European Commission, exposure to very high levels of boron may also impair fertility and could cause harm to an unborn child in pregnant women.
The EU safety limit is 300mg/kg for slime and 1200mg/kg for putty. However, retailers have claimed that products which Which? deems to be slime are actually putty, meaning that the borax contents is not over the limit.
Frootiputti, produced by Goobands and for sale in Hamley’s, had four times the permitted limit, according to the Which? investigation, while HGL’s Ghostbusters slime, which can be bought in Smyths Toys Superstores, had more than three times the limit. Both manufacturers have disagreed with Which?’s categorisation of their products as slime. However, Hamleys said it had removed the Frootiputti product from sale “as a precautionary measure”.
Fun foam, made by Zuru Oosh and sold by Argos, is classified as putty. With a level of 1700mg/kg, it also failed the testing, as it exceeded the 1200mg/kg limit.
Nikki Stopford, director of research and publishing at Which?, said: “Slime will feature in many kids’ letters to Santa this Christmas, however we’ve found more worrying evidence that children could be put at risk by these toys.
“Parents should have confidence that the products that they buy for their children will be safe, but our latest investigation has uncovered harmful products being sold even by big retailers.”
She added: “Again, we’re calling on manufacturers to stop making unsafe products, and for the government and retailers to step up and do a much better job of ensuring only safe products get into people’s homes and into the hands of children.”
Which? has passed its findings to the Office for Product Safety and Standards. It has also informed manufacturers and retailers about the results, asking for them to be removed from sale.
A spokesman for HGL said: “Our product passes EN71 without any issues. H Grossman Ltd is a responsible and safety conscious company with 73 years of experience.”
A spokeswoman for Hamley’s said: “As a precautionary measure, we have made the decision to remove all Goobands Frootiputti from our stores while we investigate this matter further.”
Smyths added: “Children’s safety is our first priority. ‘Ghostbuster Slime’ was supplied to us by the UK distributor H Grossman who have provided us with test results which indicate that the product is within safety limits.”