One of the UK’s leading toy stores - which has two branches in Leeds - has taken loom band charms off its shelves after they were found to contain potentially harmful chemicals.
The Entertainer said the charms - which have become a global craze - could contain phthalates, which can disrupt hormones in children.
The chemicals, which are used to soften plastics, have been banned in toys on sale in the European Union for several years.
A spokeswoman for The Entertainer said: “It was brought to our attention today that loom charms purchased from one of our stores may contain phthalates.
“At The Entertainer, children’s safety is our number one priority.
“As a precautionary measure, we have removed all loom charms from sale with immediate effect whilst we conduct a full investigation.”
She added that any customers who have bought the charms will be offered a full refund or exchange in any of our stores and emphasised that it is not the actual loom bands that are affected.
The craze for loom bands - tiny loops of elastic in different colours that can be linked together to create low-cost jewellery such as necklaces and bracelets - shows no signs of abating. The Duchess of Cambridge and pop star Harry Styles have been seen wearing them.
The Entertainer, which has 92 stores in the UK including shops in Leeds’s Albion Street and Trinity Leeds, is described on its website as the biggest independent toy retailer in the country.
A spokesman for Manchester-based RMS International, which supplied the charms to The Entertainer, said that after finding out about the presence of phthalates they immediately “agreed to remove all charms from sale in all their stores”.
The statement added: “We have been importing loom bands into the UK for a number of months and more recently added the charms.
“Our quality control department maintains due diligence and holds all the required paperwork and test reports. When we became aware of other products in the market that may contain phthalates we suspended delivery and further shipments of any item containing a PVC charm. We also re-initiated testing of all relevant products.
“We would like to reassure the public that loom bands are entirely safe and this only involves a number of PVC loom charms.
“Any concerned consumers should return their product to the retailer from where they were purchased.”