SYDNEY, Australia (AP)—Australian officials ordered a popular Chinese-made children's toy pulled from the shelves after scientists found it contained a chemical that converts into a powerful "date rape" drug when ingested.

Three children have been hospitalized over the past 10 days after swallowing beads from Bindeez, named Australia's toy of the year at an industry function earlier this year.

The beads in the toy, sold by Australia-based Moose Enterprises, are arranged into designs and fuse together when sprayed with water.

Scientists say the beads contain a chemical that the human body metabolizes into the so-called "date rape" drug gamma hydroxy butyrate. When eaten, the compound—made from common and easily available ingredients—can induce unconsciousness, seizures, drowsiness, coma and death.

The New South Wales state minister for fair trading, Linda Burney, ordered the toys pulled from store shelves Tuesday when it was learned a 2-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl were admitted to a Sydney hospital after swallowing large quantities of the beads.

A 19-month-old toddler from Queensland also was receiving medical help after eating the beads, the state's chief health officer, Jeannette Young, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

"The number of product recalls of well-known toys is highly disturbing to me," Burney said. "In the meantime, I would urge parents to immediately remove any Bindeez products from their children."

Naren Gunja from Australia's Poisons Information Center said the drug's effect on children was "quite serious ... and potentially life-threatening."

A statement from the New South Wales Fair Trading Department said the product was supposed to used a nontoxic compound used in glue, but contained the harmful chemical instead.

Moose Enterprises could not immediately be reached for comment.