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Avoid Dollar-Store Health Pitfalls

Carlos Oliveira of Peterborough has found some great bargains at the dollar store: tissue paper, gift bags, tape. But he was concerned when his son received knock-off Play-Doh that had no manufacturer’s information on the packaging. He’s right to be cautious. Lorne Lipkus, a Toronto lawyer and anticounterfeiting expert, says some dollar stores can be filled with counterfeit products that pose a health and safety risk. Here’s what you need to know to protect yourself.

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Avoid these potentially harmful products.

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General Items

Warning Signs
– No manufacturer information.
– The package does not come in English and French – a requirement in Canada.
– Spelling mistakes in the instructions or on the packaging.
Potential Hazards
– No recourse if something goes wrong with the product.

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Electrical Products

(Power cords, extension cords, electrical switches, light bulbs, etc.)
Warning Signs

Warning Signs
– No certification mark – or a fake mark – from a legit third-party testing lab such as the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), International or Underwriters Laboratories (UL) on the packaging and/or the product.
Potential Hazards
– Shock hazard
– Fire hazard

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(Vitamins and mineral supplements, natural and homeopathic health products)
Warning Signs
-The item does not have an eight-digit DIN (Drug Identification Number), NPN (Natural Product Number) or DIN-HM (Homeopathic Medicine Number) on the product label and packaging.

Potential Hazards
– Products with the wrong ingredients or dangerous additives.
– Products past their expiry dates.
– Products may contain no active ingredients; active ingredients may not be listed or listed incorrectly.

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Kids’ Toys and Jewellery

Warning Signs
– Items made with a high percentage of lead are typically heavy for their size. Unless coated, they may leave a grey mark when rubbed against a white piece of paper, according to Health Canada.

Potential Hazards
– Lead is toxic if ingested by children.
– Cadium, often substituted for lead, is carcinogenic if sucked on or swallowed – keep items away from young children.