HARMFUL TO THE CITIZEN'S HEALTH: Why should we think twice before buying products “Made in China”

Foto: fokus.ba

Chinese dangerous or toxic products have flooded shops in BiH. More than 80% of products recalled originate from China. We have imported 57 million kilograms of goods from China in the first three months of this year

As time passes, Bosnia and Herzegovina's market is increasingly inundated with dangerous or toxic products sourced from around the globe. This assertion is backed by official data obtained by Fokus.ba. More than 80% of these products originate from China!

The biggest problem is posed by the fact that the majority of products that were found to be harmful to the citizens’ health relates to children’s toys.

Remote control bee

The Market Surveillance Agency of BiH recalled a remote control bee made in China from the market last month due to internal testing results revealing that the product can overheat. Consumers who have purchased this product are advised to return it to the nearest “Pepco” shop.

The same applies to the lighting chain “Winter Wonderland 100L”. This product from China poses a threat of electric shock and fire because the length of the power cord is shorter than the minimum allowed.

Notification of the Food Safety Agency about the product from China

The extension cord from China, which was recalled from the market in March, also poses a threat of fire and electric shock. Among other issues, it lacks appropriate protection against live parts, while the reflecting vest from China has an insufficient coefficient of retroflection.

These are just a few examples of dangerous products from China that were sold in shops across BiH and were recently recalled from the market. Thousands of toxic and dangerous products, with which China flooded the BiH market, have been recalled in the last few years, even decades.

Inspection control

The Market Surveillance Agency of BiH confirmed to Fokus that analysis of proactive and reactive market surveillance results from 2023 revealed that 82% of unsafe products with serious risks to consumers originate from China.

They emphasize that proactive market surveillance is continuously conducted in cooperation with inspection bodies of the entities and the District of Brčko. Proactive surveillance involves monitoring specific target groups of products on the BiH market. Products that fail to meet prescribed safety requirements and pose a serious risk to consumers are recalled from the market and retrieved from consumers.

Reactive market surveillance is conducted based on consumer complaints, notifications from business entities, reports of unsafe products within the region, instances of breaches, and other relevant information.

-A total of 237 inspections were conducted during proactive market surveillance, during which 197 different models of products were administratively, visually, and laboratory tested (181 models of products were tested in laboratory), whereof 109 models (55%) failed to meet prescribed safety requirements. As a result of the aforementioned activities, 8,828 pieces of unsafe products were withdrawn from the market, with 8,041 pieces being destroyed. Business entities, either voluntarily or by order of inspection bodies, brought 28,503 pieces of products into compliance with prescribed safety requirements. These results are preliminary, as inspection authorities continue to take measures regarding several unsafe products – said the Agency.

From the EU report on unsafe products, 37 percent falls on China

They reported initiating 19 cases of reactive market surveillance in 2023. Out of these cases, it was found that products in question were present in the market of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 13 instances.

Consequently, 369 pieces of unsafe products were withdrawn from the market, while five products were returned by consumers. In addition to China, products from Turkey, Italy, Japan, Serbia, and Ethiopia were also withdrawn from the BiH market in 2023 due to safety concerns.

Alert system

The BiH Food Safety Agency is facing significant challenges regarding the safety of products originating from China. On March 28 of this year, the public was informed through the Rapid Alert System for Food and Animal Feed (EU RASFF) about cake baking trays from China being distributed in the BiH market.

Official controls revealed non-compliance with applicable regulations, particularly concerning the peeling of the surface coating, posing a potentially serious risk. These trays were imported into Bosnia and Herzegovina via Poland.

Earlier, they were also notified via the EU RASFF that black round bowls produced in China had been distributed in the BiH market, and were tested positive for melamine.

-Fortunately, there are these European rapid alert systems for dangerous products. They warned the institutions in our country about many dangerous products. But what about products that are not imported into the EU, but arrive in BiH from other countries? There has to be a loophole in the system. Also, in the cantons in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, we have a shortage of inspectors responsible for this area. We simply have not established an adequate system – said president of the Consumers’ Association “Futura”, Marin Bago, for Fokus.

He also states that there are ambiguities in the laws and regulations in this area. He adds that inspections occasionally discover such products, but it must also be acknowledged that this aspect is simply not under control.

In negotiations with the EU, we will require both financial resources and expertise to address the challenges in this area – said Bago.

Facsimile of a portion of the Market Surveillance Agency’s report

The BiH Indirect Taxation Authority had at the Fokus’ request provided data on the import of goods for the first three months, revealing extremely unbalanced trade relations with China!

In just three months this year, a staggering 57 million kilograms or 57.000 tons of goods, valued at BAM 216.544.746, were imported from China. In contrast, Bosnia and Herzegovina exported goods worth only BAM 16.4 million to China during the same period.

Unbalanced relations

The European Union also has relatively unbalanced trade relations with China, and the European market is also partly flooded with products from China. However, unlike the EU, Bosnia and Herzegovina has almost no mechanisms to defend itself against this malignant influence of China.

The EU engages in regular communication with official Beijing to reduce the presence of hazardous products in Chinese exports.

On March 14, the European Commission published its annual report on the Safety Gate system for dangerous products. This system facilitates rapid information exchange among product safety authorities in single market countries to implement measures safeguarding against dangerous non-food products.

Discovery in Belgium

The report indicates that the majority of products deemed dangerous to health in the EU during 2023 were cosmetic products. However, when excluding cosmetics from the analysis, the majority of toxic or hazardous products originated from China, accounting for as much as 52 percent of all dangerous products.

When it comes to dangerous products from China, a large-scale affair involving dangerous products from China was uncovered in Belgium in December of 2023, prompting warnings to consumers in the country to exercise caution when purchasing clothes labeled “Made in China”.

The warning stemmed from a study commissioned by the European Commission and conducted by Centexbel, the Belgian Center for Textiles and Plastic. One in six clothing items coming from China has been shown to contain chemicals that contain carcinogenic substances.

These include bisphenol, nickel or chromium-6, which can also cause skin irritation or disrupt hormones. Belgium has announced its intention to put this issue at the agenda of the highest EU institutions.




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