Thu, Jan 06, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Study reveals dubious hot-spring hygiene

CAUTION A study by the Consumers' Foundation revealed that 40 percent of the hot-spring establishments in Taipei had water containing excessive levels of bacteria

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

When winter rolls around in Taiwan, few treats beat a dip in a hot spring, but until an official quality system has been implemented, consumers should carefully consider which springs they visit and choose places that offer a hygienic bathing environment, the Consumers' Foundation (消基會) said yesterday.

In the foundation's inspections in November and December, 40 percent of the hot-spring establishments in Taipei were found to have water containing levels of bacteria exceeding official standards.

"Eleven of the 29 hot-spring hotels or resorts failed the test. Excessive bacteria were detected in their samples, which means that the water has been polluted by excrement or dirt accumulated inside bathtubs," Hsieh Tian-jen (謝天仁), publisher of the foundation's magazine, Consumer Reports of Taiwan, told a press conference yesterday.

"These proprietors should apologize to the public and make improvements immediately," he said.

Several self-proclaimed five-star hot-spring hotels were put on the foundation's black list,, including Landis Resort (中國麗緻飯店) on Yangmingshan, Spring City Resort (春天酒店) in Beitou and Spring Park Hotel (春秋烏來) in Wulai.

Pause Landis (璞石麗緻溫泉會館) in Wulai denounced the foundation's tests, although the center also failed to pass a water-quality inspection conducted by the Taipei County Government in November.

"Since few unqualified hot-spring owners care to make improvements, we appeal to the public to boycott those places, which has proven to be the best method" to force resorts to improve their water quality, said the foundation's chairman, Jason Lee (李鳳翱).

According to Article 58 of the Consumer Protection Law (消保法), proprietors who fail to improve facilities within a certain period of time are subject to fines of between NT$60,000 (US$1,900) and NT$1.5 million (US$46,800). The ultimate punishment in terms of Article 61 of the law is suspension of business activities.

The Spa Law (溫泉法), which was approved in the legislature in June 2003, has not had much of an effect in assuring the establishment of a safe and hygienic bathing environment with clear content labeling, Lee said.

Kevin Lo (駱尚廉), professor at the Graduate Institute of Environmental Engineering at National Taiwan University, urged the government to follow Japan's example to devise a recognition system which confers health certificates to providers of natural hot-spring water.

"Given the limited amount of natural hot water, recycling used water is acceptable and has been adopted in many countries. But proprietors must follow strict measures to carry out the recycling process and clearly display consumer information," Lo said.

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