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Shocking Germ Levels Found in Imported Disposable Swabs and Straws

Daniel Kim Views  

Image provided by the City of Seoul

Disposable cotton swabs sold on Chinese e-commerce platforms were found to have bacterial levels approximately 37 times the domestic standard. Similarly, disposable straws exceeded the domestic standard for total extractable matter (4% acetic acid).

On the 19th, Seoul City announced that it had conducted safety tests on 95 hygiene products directly purchased from Chinese e-commerce platforms such as Temu and Shein. The assessed products comprised 29 disposable cups, 31 disposable straws, 25 disposable napkins, and 10 disposable adult cotton swabs.

The safety evaluations unveiled that disposable cotton swabs sold by Temu surpassed the domestic standard of bacterial levels. Out of the 10 products tested, six exhibited bacteria levels up to 36.7 times the domestic standard of 300 CFU/g, with a maximum detection of 11,000 CFU/g.

The bacterial level on a cotton swab is measured to evaluate the hygiene status of the product. Using a contaminated cotton swab can result in a range of skin and eye diseases, including folliculitis and contact dermatitis.

Three disposable paper straw products sold by Shein also exceeded the domestic standard (30mg/L) by up to 43.3 times, with a total extractable matter (4% acetic acid) detection of 1300mg/L.

The city emphasized that directly imported products may be susceptible to hygiene issues during storage and distribution and often lack product information. Consequently, the city plans to block access to products exceeding domestic standards by requesting sales bans from relevant organizations and online platforms abroad. The city will offer guidance to multi-use facilities.

Furthermore, beginning this month, citizens will be able to choose and purchase products of concern for safety testing in cooperation with the consumer advocacy group, a member organization of the Korea Consumer Association. The scope of ongoing testing will be broadened to include cosmetics, clothing, and other closely related products.

Kim Tae Hee, Director of the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s Citizen Health Bureau, said, “Given that hygiene products come into direct and indirect contact with the body, it is necessary to scrutinize product information. The city of Seoul remains committed to preventing consumer damage through continuous safety testing.”

Meanwhile, the city has been regularly publicizing safety tests and the identification of harmful substances in directly imported products since April. These safety tests were conducted by the Seoul Institute of Health and Environment and the certified testing agency, Korea Institute of Construction and Living Environment (KCL), from April 25 to June 14. In cases of paper straws with unverified coating status and material, they underwent testing after component analysis conducted by external professional institutions.

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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