McDonald’s withdraws ‘deafening’ toys

McDonald's withdraws 'deafening' toys
Fast-food chain McDonald's has announced the withdrawal of musical toys sold with Happy Mealsin Sweden. The toys have been roundly criticized as dangerous to children's hearing.

The burger chain wrote in a press release that although the noise emitted by the toys lay within EU limits they had decided to withdraw them in the face of customer concerns.

The Local reported on Friday that experts at Karolinska University Hospital (KI) in Solna had found that the toys emitted continuous noise levels higher than 115 decibels, well over the limit for children recommended by Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen).

The noise levels of the toys are so high that children run the risk of sustaining tinnitus and permanent hearing damage.

“This is totally inappropriate for children and totally incomprehensible,” said Dr. Björn Hagerman from Karolinska’s laboratory for hearing technology to the newspaper Dagens Nyheter, that asked Karolinska to conduct the tests.

The toys have been available in Happy Meals sold in Sweden since September 5th and come in six different varieties.

The toys resemble mobile telephones and can therefore can be pushed against the ear to mimic a phone call.

But according to Claes Eliasson of McDonald’s Sweden, the toys aren’t meant to be used like mobile phones, but rather are supposed to be attached to a belt.

“We have carried out our own tests, which we do with all toys before they come into our restaurants. Our standards are also stricter that the EU’s. These toys have passed all the tests by a good margin,” Eliasson said.

According to Eliasson EU standards stipulate a limit of 115 decibels when the toy is 50 centimetres from the ear. The company has tested the toys at a distance of 25 centimetres from the head and measured a noise level of 79 decibels, he claims. Way below the 115 decibels recorded in the Karolinska tests therefore.

“Everything is as a result of the KI tests. We don’t know how KI has conducted the tests. We are looking at that now,” said Eliasson.