Ministry starts lab tests on consumer products


  • Nation
  • Thursday, 23 Jan 2003

BY JANE RITIKOS

KUALA LUMPUR: The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry has begun laboratory tests on consumer products to prevent confusion and also allay public fears following independent studies claiming that certain products were hazardous to health. 

Its minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the move would enable the ministry to be more proactive in protecting consumers while educating and assisting them through the findings. 

He said there were claims by consumers and associations such as the Consumer Association of Penang (CAP) that the contents of certain products were unhealthy but the ministry could not verify them. 

“For example, CAP claims that many milk products and cordial drinks have high sugar content and that packet foods have a high salt content. 

“We don’t want the public to be confused over such claims, especially when we cannot verify them,” he told reporters after witnessing the signing of the Public Service Network agreement between Pos Malaysia Berhad and Companies Commission of Malaysia yesterday. 

Muhyiddin said the ministry would start off by checking on the quality of water supply in Kuala Lumpur following numerous public complaints. 

“Samples will be collected from homes, shopping complexes, public areas, government offices and other selected places at different times of the day and week to check if the water quality is consistent. 

“From what we know, the water supply in our country follows the WHO (World Health Organisation) standards. But consumers in certain areas are complaining, so maybe the water quality deteriorated during processing,” he said. 

He said that the water samples would be sent to government laboratories, including those at the Health Ministry.  

“We will also co-operate with the Health Ministry. We may be the ministry for consumer products but there are some things which we do not know about and have to refer to the Health Ministry in this matter. 

“We will refer our findings to the Health Ministry, which has the laws pertaining to consumer products. We can also go direct to the suppliers of such products, including private water suppliers, to ask them to improve the quality,” he said. 

Muhyiddin also said that the ministry would decide on the categories of products to be tested, with emphasis on basic consumer products. The findings of the tests would also be made public. 

“We will conduct tests on products if there are complaints by consumers and when we feel it is necessary. We will also explain to consumers the dangers of a product’s contents or ingredients which are listed on the label but not understood by the layman,” he added. 

Muhyiddin also said that the ministry would study whether it should have its own laboratories to carry out the tests. 

“In countries such as Japan and Australia, such tests are conducted by consumer agencies under the government. Their tests include those on water and also automotive and electrical items,” he said. 

“We are taking a slightly different approach but we are trying to move towards that direction.”  

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