Hong Kong Customs seizes face masks with suspected false performance claims (with photos)

     Hong Kong Customs mounted an enforcement operation against four face mask retailers and a face mask manufacturer suspected of selling and supplying face masks with false performance claims, in contravention of the Trade Descriptions Ordinance (TDO), from November 23 to December 6. Five persons were arrested in the operation.
     Customs earlier received a referral from a related organisation alleging that the performance of several types of face masks were different from their claims. Customs officers then conducted test-purchase operations and sent the test-purchased samples for a performance test.
     Test results revealed that the claims to reach the differential pressure requirement of a certain performance standard of three types of face masks were inconsistent with the facts. Moreover, another type of face mask claimed to meet the requirement of the European Standard of EN14683 on microbial cleanliness, but in fact exceeded the maximum limit of the relevant European Standard requirement. However, when tested against the National Standard of GB15979, it was revealed that this type of face mask fulfilled the total bacterial count requirement.
     After follow-up investigations, Customs officers mounted an enforcement operation and seized about 2 600 face masks suspected of contravening the TDO in one of the retailers. During the operation, four males and a female, who were the responsible persons of the retailers and the face mask manufacturer respectively, aged between 27 and 49, were arrested. The arrested persons have been released on bail pending further investigation.
     Customs reminds traders to comply with the requirements of the TDO and consumers to purchase products from reputable shops.
     Under the TDO, any person who in the course of any trade or business applies a false trade description to any goods, or supplies or is in possession of any goods for sale with a false trade description, commits an offence. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for five years.
     Members of the public may report any suspected violations of the TDO to Customs' 24-hour hotline 2545 6182 or its dedicated crime-reporting email account (crimereport@customs.gov.hk).

Ends/Thursday, December 8, 2022
Issued at HKT 19:20