A TOY shop in Colchester town centre has been forced remove Loom band charms from its shelves, after it was revealed they contained suspected cancer causing chemicals.

The Entertainer, in High Street, is one of the retailer’s 104 UK stores that had to remove Loom band charms, after an investigation found they contained suspected carcinogens.

Tests conducted by the BBC Midlands Today programme showed one charm contained 40 per cent of phthalates - EU law states 0.1 per cent in weight is the legal limit.

A statement from The Entertainer said: “It was brought to our attention that Loom charms purchased from one of our stores did not pass an inspection.

“At The Entertainer, children's safety is our number one priority so as a precautionary measure we have removed all Loom charms from sale with immediate effect whilst we conduct a full investigation.

“Any concerned customers will be offered a full refund or exchange in any of our stores.”

Phthalates are used to make plastics safer and more flexible but as a known carcinogen, their use is tightly controlled.

The loom band craze, where different coloured bands are woven together to create bracelets, originated in the United States, but has become increasingly popular in Britain.

The Birmingham Assay Office, which independently test fashion and jewellery accessories, said it found two banned phthalates.

Pthalates can get into the body if they are sucked, for instance by a child fiddling with one of the charms.