LCQ1: Monitoring the safety of infant products
Following is a question by the Hon Leung Yiu-chung and a written reply by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, in the Legislative Council today (February 1):
I have received complaints from a member of the public pointing out that a foreign object, which was suspected to be an insect wing, was found in a new born baby diaper of a baby diaper brand which is very popular among parents in Hong Kong. The member of the public had reflected the situation to various government departments (including the Department of Health and the Customs and Excise Department), hoping that the authorities would take follow-up actions, but such departments only asked him to approach the Consumer Council to lodge a complaint through the channels for lodging complaints on commercial products in general. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) whether the relevant government departments at present proactively monitor and inspect the quality and safety of infant products, rather than handling complaints in accordance with the arrangement for dealing with complaints on products in general after receiving the complaints; if they have, of a breakdown of the details by government department; if not, the reasons for that; and
(b) whether the authorities will enhance inspection and safety assessment of infant products, so as to safeguard the health of infants?
My reply to the various parts of the question is as follows:
(a) Under the Consumer Goods Safety Ordinance (Cap. 456) (the Ordinance), general consumer goods (including baby products and disposable baby diapers) manufactured or supplied in Hong Kong, or imported into Hong Kong, must comply with the safety requirement specified by the Ordinance.
Under the Ordinance, consumer goods must be reasonably safe, and in determining whether the goods are reasonably safe, account must be taken of all of the circumstances, including:
(i) the manner in which, and the purpose for which, the consumer goods are presented, promoted or marketed;
(ii) the use of any mark in relation to the consumer goods and instructions or warnings given for the keeping, use or consumption of the consumer goods;
(iii) reasonable safety standards published by a standards institute or similar body for consumer goods of the description which applies to the consumer goods or for matters relating to consumer goods of that description; and
(iv) the existence of any reasonable means (taking into account the cost, likelihood and extent of any improvement) to make the consumer goods safer.
The Customs and Excise Department (C&ED) is responsible for enforcing the Ordinance. In addition to investigating into complaints lodged by the public, C&ED has been taking the initiative to carry out spot checks at shops in Hong Kong. It will take appropriate action (including purchasing specimens for safety tests) when it comes to its attention that products available in Hong Kong are suspected to be unsafe. If any products fail to meet the safety requirement specified by the Ordinance, C&ED will warn or prosecute suppliers.
(b) The Administration is committed to ensuring that goods (in particular baby and children products) supplied in the local market are safe. In the past three years (from 2009 to 2011), C&ED carried out 2,235 spot checks and purchased 40 specimens of various kinds of disposable diapers for safety tests. At the same period, C&ED received seven complaints about suspected unsafe baby diapers and drew specimen in relation to each case for testing. All specimens were found to comply with relevant safety requirements including hygiene requirements such as total bacterial count and total fungal count. C&ED will continue to conduct spot checks and safety tests in accordance with its risk profiling.
Wednesday, February 1, 2012