Sat, Oct 27, 2007 - Page 4 News List

Bamboo charcoal may not be helpful

AMPLE CLAIMS The Consumer Protection Commission yesterday released the results of their research on the wide variety of consumer products containing the material


A girl holds up a pair of underwear made with bamboo charcoal while displaying other bamboo charcoal products in Taipei yesterday. The Consumer Protection Commission announced the results of an investigation, saying that the products may not have the medical effects claimed.


In view of the recent frenzy over bamboo charcoal products (BCP), the Consumer Protection Commission (CPC) cautioned the public yesterday that the products may not offer as many health benefits as they claim.

The CPC issued the warning after it commissioned the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) to examine BCPs on the market.

"The overwhelming selection of BCPs as well as the huge price discrepancies prompted the necessity for such an investigation," CPC director-general Wu Cheng-hsue (吳政學) told a press conference yesterday.

BCPs are products -- from socks to bagels -- made with bamboo that has been burned at 200oC to 800oC until it becomes charcoal. Benefits are said to include improved blood circulation, air freshening and deodorizing as well as improved mood.

The CPC targeted three types of BCPs: garments, food and cosmetics, Wu said, adding that ITRI found no correlations between the prices of the products and the degree of effect.

The BCP samples included products from Lacoya (台灣百合), ABA Nano-Tech Company (達裕奈米科技), Queen Toys and Bedding Products (坤宇企業), Feilo Mina (菲洛米娜), Footloose Co (足好), Noetic Consultants Canada Inc (九地竹炭), Dr. Green (寰安科技), Bright Product Direct Co (睿杰國際行銷), Nice Group (耐斯企業), Semeur De Pain (聖娜多堡) and Uni-President (統一企業).

Garment manufacturers claim that BCPs emit far-infrared rays, which increase metabolism and release negative ions, which absorb pollutants in the air and act as mood stabilizers, Wu said.

CPC Consumer Ombudsman Hu Hua-tai (胡華泰) said that though no laws regulate the percentage of emission for far-infrared rays or the release of negative ions for BCP garments, the higher the number, the better the effects.

However, he warned, "There is no clear research to support that bamboo charcoal provides health benefits; consumers should know that bamboo charcoal is different from activated charcoal used medically."

He said that claiming a product emits infrared rays at a 75 percent level is pointless since most garments emit at that level.

The atmosphere also naturally releases negative ions at 130psc/cc-270psc/cc.

The highest negative ion release came from Bright Product Direct Co, with the cheapest garment sample at NT$799, which released 5,100psc/cc-6,900psc/cc, he said. The most expensive Feilo Mina model, priced at NT$5,980, emitted 3,600psc/cc-4,100psc/cc, while the second most expensive Lacoya was NT$5,820 and emitted 1,520psc/cc-740psc/cc. Far-infrared emission levels had little to do with price, he said.

In regards to food and cosmetics, "We found BCPs to be benign to human health, however, whether they offer the health benefits they claim is unclear. Manufacturers who make claims about the benefits of the bamboo charcoal may be in violation of labeling laws," Hu said.

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