Online national retailer Riff Raff Baby Pty Ltd has paid penalties of $132,000 after the ACCC issued it with eight infringement notices for allegedly making false or misleading statements about its comforter toys being safe for sleep from birth.
Riff Raff has also provided the ACCC with a court-enforceable undertaking in which it admits that the advertisements for its sleep aid toys were likely to have breached the Australian Consumer Law.
Riff Raff advertised its sleep aid comforters for sale on its website, and Facebook and Instagram pages, with frequent images of sleeping babies and prominent statements including “we always recommend the introduction of your Riff Raff Sleep Toy from birth where possible” ,“…Did you introduce your Riff Raff from birth? If you didn’t…, do you wish you had?” and “designed with safety in mind.”
The sleep aid toys involved are: Bandit the Raccoon; Banjo the Bear; Clover the Bunny; Kirra the Koala; Riff the Fox; and Raffy the Fawn.
The ACCC was concerned that these ads conveyed the misleading representation that the sleep aid toys were safe to be used in unsupervised sleep environments with infants under seven months old. This is contrary to public health advice, which indicates that toys or other objects, particularly soft toys, should not be placed in a sleep environment with a baby less than seven months old.
“Based on these advertisements by Riff Raff, parents and caregivers may have thought that these products are safe for babies to sleep next to in an unsupervised sleep environment, when in fact there are serious safety risks. These types of products can cover a baby’s nose and mouth, which can pose a risk of fatal suffocation,” ACCC Deputy Chair, Catriona Lowe said.
“Every consumer who purchased one of these sleep aid toys should ensure they are not used in a sleep environment in close proximity to an unsupervised sleeping baby under seven months old, due to the suffocation risk.”
“Retailers must be extremely careful when promoting and selling baby and children’s products that they do not mislead consumers about safety,” Ms Lowe said.
The eight infringement notices relate to safe for sleep representations made in February and March 2023, with six infringement notices issued in relation to representations made about six different toys on Riff Raff’s website, and one infringement notice each for representations made on Facebook and Instagram.
The court-enforceable undertaking provided to the ACCC by Riff Raff contained commitments by Riff Raff not to make these representations again, to amend its website and social media advertising to remove the representations, to provide corrective notices to all customers who purchased the products about the safety risks associated with the sleep aid toy products, and to establish a consumer law compliance program.
Infant sleep products
The ACCC has been focusing on consumer product safety issues affecting young children, including issues relating to infant sleep products.
Part of this work includes monitoring emerging trends in infant sleep products and working with businesses to encourage due diligence prior to offering products for sale.
“We’ve been actively monitoring and engaging with businesses about potentially unsafe marketing statements about sleep aid products and will continue to take appropriate action when we have concerns,” Ms Lowe said.
The ACCC launched an education campaign earlier this year that aims to increase consumer awareness about the safety risks associated with infant sleep products and to prevent injuries and death associated with incline sleep products, bassinets and cots, bouncers and sleep aids.
Riff Raff is an online national retailer which sells sleep toy comforters, teethers, books and other accessories for babies and children.
Sleep aid toys, such as comforters, are generally soft toys marketed as having a calming effect on babies and children. Common features may include lullabies, white noise sounds and night lights.
To reduce the risk of baby deaths, advocacy and health agencies including Red Nose, Australia’s leading authority on safe sleep, currently advise people to ensure a safe sleep environment, including by keeping baby’s face and head uncovered.
Notes to editors
From 1 July 2023, contraventions of section 29(1)(g) of the Australian Consumer Law can result in infringement notices of $18,780 for a corporation or $187,800 for a listed corporation.
The payment of a penalty specified in an infringement notice is not an admission of a contravention of the Australian Consumer Law, which also sets the penalty amount.
The ACCC can issue an infringement notice when it has reasonable grounds to believe a person or business has contravened certain consumer protection provisions in the Australian Consumer Law.
Screenshots of publicly available images of the representations made by Riff Raff on their website, Instagram and Facebook pages taken 28 February 2023 and 24 May 2023