People should be on the alert for masks on some e-commerce sites that are falsely labeled as being made in Taiwan, a pharmaceutical association in Taipei said on Thursday.
This week, more than 140,000 imported masks with false labels were seized by the Customs Administration, the Taiwan Pharmaceutical Marketing and Management Association said.
People should buy masks from reputable brick-and-mortar stores, where they can verify the product’s origin, association president Kao Meng-hsi (高孟熙) said.
Photo courtesy of Taipei Customs
Masks that are properly packaged are safer than those sold in transparent plastic bags with no label, he added.
Buyers should find the Chinese National Standard (CNS) number on the package, as well as the manufacturer’s name and contact information, pharmacist Shen Tsai-ying (沈采穎) said.
Boxes of masks should be labeled “CNS14774,” indicating that the product has been approved for medical use, Shen said, adding that not all masks are made to that standard, as some are only meant to protect against dust and other types of atmospheric pollution.
The CNS number indicates “compliance of product quality with national standards and the compliance of manufacturers’ quality management systems with the requirements of ISO 9000 series of standards,” the Web site of the Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection says.
The issue of mask quality and origin arose after the Customs Administration seized 7,350 imported masks on Monday and another 132,781 masks the following day — all falsely labeled “Made in Taiwan.”
The masks were shipped via courier from China or Hong Kong and had documents falsely listing Taiwan as the origin, Taipei Customs officers said on Wednesday.
The Customs Administration said that since Aug. 1, it has been checking the postal system and courier services more rigorously for counterfeit masks, as people have been importing cheap masks to resell at a markup.
Government approval is required to import masks for use in medical facilities or resale, the Customs Administration said, adding that masks made in Taiwan are of higher quality than those produced in China.
Furthermore, Taiwan prohibits the importation of foreign-made goods that have been falsely labeled to misrepresent the country of manufacture, either through text or representative markings, the Customs Administration said.
The unlimited sale of surgical masks resumed in Taiwan in June, after months of rationing by the government, which was requisitioning the bulk of the domestic supply for medical use amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Taiwan had since increased production to meet local demand and also to supply overseas markets.
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