Fri, Jul 21, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Spas require better regulation: groups

SAFETY ISSUES Women's rights groups expressed concern that spas which use unqualified staff and have failed fire inspections risk endangering their customers

By Jean Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Huang Sue-ying, second left, yesterday holds a press conference to call on the government to regulate the booming beauty and weight-control spa industry.

PHOTO: FANG PIN-CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

With the growing prevalence of beauty and weight-control spas, a legislator and women's rights group representatives yesterday called for better regulation of the industry after an inspection earlier this year showed that only three of 159 spas examined passed the test.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Huang Sue-ying (黃淑英) yesterday said that in recent months, spa safety had become a huge concern for women after accidents such as a gas leak at a gym-cum-spa in April that resulted in the death of one person.

Also, the Consumer Protection Commission conducted a series of inspections in February in which more than 70 percent of the spas inspected nationwide did not fulfill fire-safety and building registration requirements.

Fifty percent also had no certified beautician or personnel present, Huang said.

Twenty-five percent of the spas were even unregistered and operating illegally, she said.

Lin Lu-hong (林綠紅), president of Taiwan Women's Link, said that many spas offered "dieting" or "slimming" services which are categorized as "medical practice" by the Department of Health.

As such, it is illegal for beauty spas to offer such services, Lin said.

However, many of these spas own and operate machines that ar supposed to aid blood circulation and perspiration to achieve slimming, but this equipment is not regulated by the health department, Lin said.

Lin said that the line between "medical" and spa equipment was blurred and this could endanger consumers.

However, Lan Kuo-yueh (藍國岳), an official from the Bureau of Pharmaceutical Affairs, disputed this. Lan said that according to article 13 of the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act (藥事法), the definition of "medical devices" was clearly stated as being instruments, machines, apparatus and their accessories and parts, which are used in diagnosing, curing, alleviating or preventing human diseases, or which may affect body structure or functions.

The health department also has a list of various types of medical devices, but the machine Lin had given as an example was not listed, and therefore not a medical device Lan said.

All medical devices should be registered with the health department, he said, adding that the department also stipulates that only medical personnel can handle specific machines.

To crack down on spas that are illegally using medical devices that should be operated by professionals, the department launched nationwide inspections of medical devices in April and will have local health departments report the results in September, officials said.

National Fire Bureau officials said that of the 159 spas inspected earlier this year, one had closed while the rest passed a second round of inspections for fire safety.

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