Consumer protection in Hong Kong

Beware of soap-bubble toys, Hong Kong parents warned

Consumer Council says they might contain micro-organisms that can cause gastroenteritis, fever and swollen throat

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 May, 2017, 8:57pm
UPDATED : Monday, 15 May, 2017, 10:10pm

Toys containing soap bubbles could harbour micro-organisms that are harmful to children, the Consumer Council warned parents on Monday.

It tested 12 toys selected at random and found the total microbial count was relatively high in two models, one of which contained a pathogen that could cause illness.

Children who played with such toys and then touched their the eyes or ate without first washing their hands might suffer a bacterial infection with symptoms such as red eyes, conjunctivitis, a swollen throat, skin irritation, gastroenteritis and fever.

“The product should be used up as quickly as possible after it is opened,” said Professor Wong Kam-fai, chairman of the council’s research and testing committee. “People should wash their skin and clothes at once after playing with soap bubbles.”

Dr Louis Shih Tai-cho, a dermatologist, said: “Research found the source of water was not clean, and some of the manufacturers were from Guangdong province.

“Any toy with water has risks, because bacteria needs to live in a watery environment and could be found in toys containing water. That is why parents have to be very careful with toys with water.”

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The council also revealed that split-type air conditioners – those pumping out cold and warm air – with a top grade 1 energy efficiency stamp could differ hugely in efficiency.

In the 14 models the council tested, electricity usage varied by 20 per cent, and the resultant electricity bills by 24 per cent.

Although one solution to give a clearer picture to consumers was to further sub-divide the grade, Gilly Wong Fung-han, chief executive of the council, had reservations.

“Perhaps even within grade 1, we could have finer classifications like 1A, 1B, or 1C, but the current grading is widely understood and changing it may confuse some consumers,” she said.

Wong said how air conditioners were used was more important.

“You should consider the power of the air conditioner in relation to the size of the room. You could put up curtains to reduce the heat, and you don’t have to keep temperature too low,” she said.

“This will help you save on your electricity bill.”