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Wal-Mart pulls substandard cups from shelves

By Wang Xiaodong  (China Daily)

08:23, May 06, 2013

Paper vessels made by a factory in Hunan province fail safety tests

Wal-Mart has withdrawn a batch of paper cup products labeled with its brand from Beijing after they failed quality tests, the company confirmed on Sunday.

The batch of paper cups, made by a factory in Hunan province in April last year authorized by Wal-Mart and labeled "Great Value", a brand owned by Wal-Mart, failed recent tests organized by Beijing's industrial and commerce bureau .

"We immediately ordered the products involved off the shelves after we were informed of the test results," said Jiang Wei, a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart China.

"No products of this batch are on sale now and all paper cups branded Great Value for sale meet national standards."

Forty-three kinds of paper products, including tissues, diapers and cups, failed the tests organized by the industrial and commerce bureau in Beijing and were ordered to be withdrawn from the market in the capital, the bureau said.

Most of the products that failed the tests were paper cups. The problems mainly included substandard ink used for patterns printed on the cups, excessive use of fluorescent agent and substandard paper material, the bureau said.

The cups branded "Great Value", designed for holding up to 200 milliliters of cold or hot beverages, failed the decoloring and body strength tests. The quantity of the cups that failed the tests was not specified.

Several other paper cup producers also failed tests, including Beijing Jilong Paper and Plastic Co. Six batches of paper cups made by that company failed tests including decoloring and strength tests.

Wang Baotong, a manager at the company, confirmed that problems were found and said all the paper cups involved have been withdrawn.

"We found that a company in Shenzhen produced the cups and sold them in the market labeled with our brand," he said. "We may take legal action against that company."

More than 10 billion disposable paper cups are sold in China annually and a large proportion were made by uncertified companies, according to reports.

The use of substandard ink is a major reason for failing the decoloring test, according to Dong Jinshi, executive vice-president of the International Food Packaging Association.

Some chemicals in substandard ink, such as benzene, are hazardous to health, Dong said.

"Failing the strength test could happen because waste material was used to make the paper cups or the paper used was too thin or high in water content," Dong said. "Waste material is not allowed for use in paper cups according to industrial regulations."

A national standard issued by the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, which took effect on June 1, imposes more stringent guidelines on the manufacturing of paper cups. New measures enacted include bans on recycled material or fluorescent agents.

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