Thu, Jul 24, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Soft drinks, bikinis mar blood donating

CHEAP ADVERTISING A legislator yesterday alleged that companies sponsor blood donations in an effort to promote their products without having to pay anything

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

A lawmaker alleged yesterday that a food company promoted its illegal products by sponsoring a bikini-clad blood-donation activity in Tainan on Monday.

KMT Legislator Hsu Shao-ping (徐少萍) accused the Chejihu Company, a retailer of food and Chinese medicine, of taking advantage of the Tainan Blood Center's blood donation activity to promote a soft drink called "597."

The drink drew Hsu's criticism because the Chejihu Company claimed in its advertisements the product could alleviate hangovers and heal urethritis, gastrointestinal discomforts, fever, palpitations, vomiting and constipation.

"The labels on the bottles only say the product can freshen the breath, invigorate the spirit and strengthen the body," Hsu said, adding they did not indicate the drink has healing effects, as its advertisements claim.

Hsu said all labels and advertisements promoting healing properties in ordinary food constitute violations of the Food Management Law (食品衛生管理法), which fines offenders NT$30,000 to NT$1 million for such transgressions.

The food company admitted it has been fined for promoting the product several times, and Hsu alleged the company sponsored a blood-donation activity held by the Tainan Blood Center in order to distribute the drinks as gifts to blood donors.

On Monday, the Chejihu Charity Foundation, in association with the Chejihu Company, launched a month-long blood donation effort in conjunction with the center.

It hired eight bikini girls to attract donors.

The girls either stood in front of the blood center to greet passers-by or served the donors with drinks when nurses collected their blood.

Hsu questioned the foundation's bikini girls to entice blood donors and expressed concern that such behavior may tarnish the positive image of blood donations.

The number of blood donors tripled in the blood center on Monday because of the presence of the bikini girls.

But despite the increase in blood donors, Chang Ing-ell (張英二), secretary general of the Chinese Blood Donation Association, disapproved of the practise.

Chang noted that blood centers should remain cautious when accepting sponsorships from the business sector.

"We welcome sponsorships from individuals and companies. But we are also aware that many sponsoring companies want to promote their products during the blood-donation activities," Chang said.

Products distributed at blood-donation events have included milk, chicken essence and surgical masks, Chang said.

Hwang Yu-hsiung (黃裕雄), an official from the TBC, revealed the difficulties of recruiting blood donors in Tainan, Chiayi and Yunlin, the three counties the blood center serves.

"In Taipei, a blood donation bus can easily collect 100 to 200 bags of blood in a single day. However, in the three counties, a blood donation bus is hard pushed to obtain 20 to 30 bags of blood a day," Huang said.

"Usually our blood-donation buses harvest less than 20 bags of blood a day," Huang said.

He said the Tainan Blood Center allowed the presence of the bikini girls because it faces a shortfall of blood supplies for the coming summer vacation.

Meanwhile, Fang Ying (方迎), president of the Chejihu Company, said the company's advertisements of its product was "none of the lawmaker's business."

Admitting its advertisements on 579 drinks were exaggerated, Fang said it was probably some of her competitors who moved Hsu to question the foundation's motive behind sponsoring the blood donation.

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