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February 26, 2013

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More fail checks on uniforms

Another two batches of school uniforms produced by a Shanghai garment company have been found to contain cancer-causing dyes, city quality authorities said yesterday.

A police investigation into the supplier, Shanghai Ouxia Clothing Co Ltd, is also under way, the city government said. Disciplinary supervision authorities are also investigating whether officials allowed the substandard uniforms to enter school campuses.

The city's quality watchdog conducted tests on 106 batches of uniforms from Shanghai Ouxia, the supplier found to have used banned aromatic amine dyes in earlier checks, and two batches were found to contain the carcinogenic substance, the authorities said.

All of the company's remaining clothing and fabric materials have been sealed by quality officials in the Pudong New Area where the company is located.

Officials said Ouxia used tainted material bought from the Oulin Fabric Product Co Ltd based in Shaoxing, Zhejiang Province.

A total of 41 schools in Pudong were found to have purchased uniforms from Ouxia by Sunday, and they have been ordered to recall them all.

The Shanghai Education Commission has also ordered education bureaus and schools in each district to ensure that there is a record of all uniform suppliers.

Before this, six of 22 batches of school uniforms examined by the Shanghai Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision failed quality tests.

Of the six batches, one from Ouxia contained toxic dyes and the other five had minor problems like lack of cotton fibers or improper labeling. Production at Ouxia has been suspended, and the other five garment makers were ordered to fix the problems.

On February 18, education authorities ordered 26,400 primary and high school students to stop wearing Ouxia-brand uniforms after the toxic dye was detected in its products.

In response to the scandal, the city has ordered schools to send uniforms to the quality watchdog for tests before distributing them to students.

Authorities will also increase the frequency of tests on school uniforms.

The government has also urged the quality bureau and uniform producers to carry out checks to ensure the quality of uniforms is up to standard.

The bureau should also establish a blacklist system and factories producing substandard uniforms will be banned from supplying clothes to schools.

Before the current scandal, the city's quality watchdog had checked 183 batches of school uniforms since 2009, and found three containing excessive levels of formaldehyde which could lead to headaches, dermatitis and eczema and 11 sets with a high pH index, which can cause skin allergies.

Companies involved were ordered to suspend operations and improve quality before they were allowed to start up again after an inspection.


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