Co.op Mart pulls Chinese toxic lanterns off shelves

All of the Chinese plastic lanterns that have recently been detected with high levels of a cancer-causing substance have been taken off shelves in supermarkets under Saigon Co.op, Việt Nam’s largest supermarket chain announced Monday.

“We now only sell lanterns made by domestic manufacturers like Thái Binh or Thịnh Vượng,” deputy CEO Nguyễn Thành Nhân told reporters.

Earlier, a Chinese battery-powered lantern, in the shape of a dragonfly, was taken for a toxic test, and was found to contain a cadmium amount of 7.390 microgram per kg, exceeding the allowed level by 123 times.

Cadmium is an extremely hazardous metal, found in industrial paint and which can cause prostate and lung cancer, and fetal malformations.

Lanterns are the traditional toys for kids to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, with this year’s festival falling on September 29.

Battery-powered Chinese plastic lanterns have almost completely replaced the local traditional ones, which are made of bamboo frames and cellophane, and lit by a candle, in recent years, thanks to their catchy designs and lively motions.

The dragonfly lantern under question was bought from the Co.op Mart BMC on Lũy Bán Bích Street, Tân Phú District.

It was distributed by Hồng Phát, a facility based in District 6, and was imported by Lê Trí Co Ltd.

Hồng Phát, however, refused to respond after the product was found with toxic content.

It also rejected reporter’s requests to present invoices and quality stamps for the lanterns, saying the responsible individuals “are on a business trip.”

Another case

Meanwhile, another sample of a Chinese bird-like lantern was also discovered to bear false information about the plastic content on its label.

The bird lantern, which is capable of flapping its wings and running around when batteries are inserted, has labels showing it was made from PP and PE plastics, while the materials are in fact ABS and PE plastics, according to results from the Institute of Applied Materials Science and Institute of Chemical Technology.

The product, imported by Diên Phong Co Ltd and distributed by Kiến Hòa Co Ltd, was bought from Hồng Phát store on Tân Phú District’s Nguyễn Sơn Street.

Both the bird and dragonfly lanterns have the same quality stamp issued by Quacert, an agency under the Ministry of Science and Technology in charge of certificating products.

But the center’s southern representative office said it has yet to determine whether the stamps are authentic or not.

“The southern office only receives applications from businesses, and transfers them to the headquarters in Hanoi for final approval,” it said.



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