11 February 2000

Torturing Teddy (all in the name of safety)

by Kate Melville

Cruelty to bears has long been outlawed in Europe, but when it comes to teddy bears it is quite another story all together (and yes we all know why they are called Teddy Bears).

So yes it's true teddy bears are being tortured but only to ensure they meet the rigorous demands of European Commission (EC) directives. For those of you unaware of the importance of these EU directives they govern pretty much everything from the amount of fat in specific cheeses, to the size toilet seats!

For the unfortunate teddy bears this means that their eyes, noses and other parts are being tortured by machines to ensure that they stand up to the rigors of the playground and bedroom.

Now all this testing may sound crazy but it's not says Chris Grant whose UK based company Mecmesin carries out the teddy torture tests, ""Once children have opened their Christmas presents it is amazing what their fingers, and indeed teeth, will try to do to their new toys."

The test bears are strapped to a machine that pulls at their various body parts at 5-second intervals with up to 90 Newton's of force. Another machine then pulls and twists the body parts - ow!

While these tests may sound a bit odd, even the shop that we used to run at Science a Go Go was affected by these regulations. One of our vendors sold tin toys that under EU laws were not even supposed to be designed for or used by children!

So next time your at a social function and meet an Englishman by the name of Chris Grant, don't ask what he does, as his unofficial title of Chief Teddy Bear Torturer (Europe) is not something everyone to know about (especially if you have children).