AirTags pulled from retailer over child safety concerns — Apple responds

Apple AirTags
(Image credit: Apple)

Australian retailer Officeworks has pulled Apple AirTags off store shelves due to child safety concerns around the CR 2032 coin cell battery. As of this reporting, the tracking device is still available on Apple's Australian online store, as well as retailers JB Hi-Fi and Big W. 

The news come way of Gizmodo Australia, which cites communication from an Officeworks representative via email. The email states, "The product will not be stocked by Officeworks until further guidance is provided from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission."

Employees first noticed that they were unable to ring up AirTags yesterday, May 3. According to a Reddit user, “Staff at the counter could see on their system that they had some in stock, and one staff member even remembered selling them on Friday, but they couldn’t find them today.”

Later, Officeworks told employees that it was being held due to safety concerns considering how easy it was for a child to remove the coin cell battery. 

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) spoke to Gizmodo Australia on the matter. 

"The ACCC is aware of reports raising concerns about the accessibility of button batteries in the Apple AirTag product," said a spokesperson via email. They went on to say, "If a supplier finds that a product they supply is unsafe, the ACCC expects the supplier to conduct a voluntary recall to advise consumers of the risk, address the safety issue, or remove the product from the market."

According to Australian law, if a retailer of supplier is made aware of an injury, illness or death caused by a product, it must make a mandatory injury report on the Product Safety Australia website. At the moment, it's unknown if an injury was caused by the AirTag's coin cell battery.

Apple responds

Gizmodo Australia did reach out to Apple for comment, and got this response:

"AirTag is designed to meet international child safety standards, including those in Australia, by requiring a two step push-and-turn mechanism to access the user-replaceable battery," said an Apple representative via email. "We are following the regulations closely and are working to ensure that our products will meet or exceed new standards, including those for package labelling, well ahead of the timeline required."

While Apple does have a mechanism in place to make it difficult for children to remove the CR 2032 battery, it's also not very difficult to get to. All it requires is a twist of the back plate to remove. According to Choice, an Australian consumer advocacy group, three children have died from swallowing coin cell batteries since 2013. And according to the ACCC, about 20 children a week are taken to emergency rooms in Australia for swallowing button batteries. 

Imad Khan

Imad is currently Senior Google and Internet Culture reporter for CNET, but until recently was News Editor at Tom's Guide. Hailing from Texas, Imad started his journalism career in 2013 and has amassed bylines with the New York Times, the Washington Post, ESPN, Wired and Men's Health Magazine, among others. Outside of work, you can find him sitting blankly in front of a Word document trying desperately to write the first pages of a new book.