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Unsafe products still on shelves in Guangdong

30 June 2009 861 views No Comment

GUANGZHOU: More than half of the beverages, tissues and women’s sanitary products on sale in the markets of Guangdong province are “substandard”, with a number of them even “dangerous to consumers’ health”, tests conducted by authorities on over 200 products showed.

The provincial administration bureau of industry and commerce conducted tests on 202 products of beverages, bottled water, tissues and sanitary products, and found that only “49 percent” of them met the government’s hygiene standard during the manufacturing process, said Xiao Yangwu, director of the bureau’s consumer’s rights protection office.

However, the bureau has neither named the products nor the “72 firms” that manufacture them in its report, clearly hinting that the producers will not be penalized.

The results of the tests, which were conducted between April and June this year, have only created panic among consumers, who are worried they might continue using unsafe products.
“The authorities should tell us what the unsafe and unqualified products are. What’s the point of telling us some products we are consuming are harmful without telling us which ones?” asked Huang Chunhong, a businessman based in Guangzhou, the provincial capital.

The bureau defended its move saying it “is not the right time” to reveal the names of the products.

Xiao admitted most of the firms producing unsafe products will likely remain unharmed as penalizing them was “beyond the jurisdiction of the bureau”.

“It is hard for us to urge manufacturers, some of whom are based outside Guangdong, to halt production and recall unqualified products,” Xiao said, adding, “But we will try to take as many unsafe products off the province’s shelves as we can.”

Xiao said some of the problems they found in the beverages and bottled water included “false label information, excessive use of food additives and excessive content of leaf mold and yeast”.

The tests found that only “34.8 percent” of bottled water met quality standards, a dramatic drop from 92.5 percent recorded last year.
The percentage of beverages considered safe for consumption dropped from 91.1 percent last year to 71.8 percent in the second quarter of this year, the tests showed.

“We intentionally tested more products in the suburbs, where most unqualified bottled water and beverages are being sold. That’s one reason for the jump in the rate of unqualified products this year,” Xiao said.

Xiao reasoned it was due to the global financial crisis that companies were spending lesser amounts of money to improve the quality of their products.

“Companies have started using more raw materials and additives in their products to cut manufacturing costs in the face of the economic downturn.”

Of the tissues and sanitary products tested, only “52.8 percent” were found safe, down from 82 percent in 2006.

Xiao said the bureau will launch a campaign later this year to curb unqualified products from being sold in the market.

Last month, the provincial authorities revealed the results of tests conducted on children’s clothing, which found that only 53.5 percent of the garments produced in Guangdong met safety standards.

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