Those Go Go Hamsters are safe to go go on sale after all

British importers of the must-have Christmas toys - Go Go Hamsters - have dismissed claims they are a safety risk as 'entirely groundless'.

Character Options said emergency safety tests had proved the hugely popular toys 'fully complied' with all health standards in Europe and the United States.

The test results are further good news for British retailers, who are dreaming of a bumper Christmas after online consumers spent a staggering £1.4million in one minute yesterday.

The transactions went through at 1.43pm as office workers across the land did their present shopping online.


Unsafe? A Go Go Pet Hamster from Zhu Zhu Pets, by Cepia, is shown

Among the big sellers were the Nintendo Wii in black and the Apple iPod Touch, with Go Go Hamsters expected to rejoin the best-sellers after the positive tests.

The GoodGuide website, based in California, sparked the safety controversy when it said it found high levels of antimony on the surface of the Mr Squiggles character from the Go Go Hamsters.

Antimony, a heavy metal and flame retardant, is linked to headaches and dizziness, while long-term exposure is said to cause heart and lung problems and even cancer.

GoodGuide has since admitted the crude test it used did not meet official international standards.


The hottest item flying off the shelves are these robotic hamsters. They come pre-programmed with different sounds and modes like 'adventure mode', along with different accessories like hamster beds and cars

The website said: 'While GoodGuide considers the presence of any antimony on the surface of a toy to be a concern, we want to clarify that we used a testing methodology that is different from the testing methodology incorporated into the federal standards.'

Last night Oldham-based company Character Options said independent tests carried out overnight in Hong Kong had confirmed the toys met safety standards.

A spokesman said: 'The GoodGuide testing process was flawed, the results meaningless and the safety concerns expressed on the basis of these results, entirely groundless.'

Executive chairman Richard King said: 'Safety of children has always been the company's top priority.

'We take all reasonable steps to ensure that all our products, both those we design and develop under our own brand and those we distribute on behalf of other manufacturers, are safe and fully compliant with all applicable standards.'

He said it was 'unfortunate' that a 'misguided safety statement' from GoodGuide had been given credence.

The alert about Go Go Hamsters spread alarm among parents who have snapped up more than 700,000 of the toys in the past few weeks.

Such has been the demand that parents have been paying five or six times the official price of £9.99.

Contributors to the Mumsnet website were angry and upset. One mother complained she had paid a 'ridiculous price' on eBay and was 'distraught'.

Between 1pm and 2pm yesterday, internet retail sales peaked at £33million on a day when total takings were expected to reach £400million.

David Smith, of internet trade body IMRG, said: 'With more and more consumers taking advantage of the convenience and price savings available online, it is no surprise that today saw the highest sales ever online in a single day.'

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