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March 24, 2011

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Poor-quality tissues pose health risk

SUBSTANDARD tissues posing health risks are being provided in some small restaurants in the city.

Quality inspection officials said yesterday they will strengthen inspections this year and launch a crackdown on those producing low-quality tissues.

Restaurant customers have complained about tissue problems.

Edward Dai, a postgraduate student in his 20s, said he suffered a serious skin allergy around his mouth two days after using low-quality tissues at a restaurant.

"I wiped my mouth with the tissue provided by the restaurant, and doctors said the tissue likely caused the allergy," he said.

The Shanghai Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision said such tissues are made of low-quality paper. Usually tissue paper is made from wood pulp, but substandard tissue paper is often made from garbage like waste paper and cloth shreds, without sterilization.

These tissues usually break apart easily in water, the bureau said.

To make tissues look whiter and feel soft, harmful chemical substances such as caustic soda or dyes are added during production. These chemicals can cause skin allergies and, if used frequently, raise the risk of getting cancer, officials said.

Shanghai Daily visited several small restaurants on Weihai Road in downtown Jing'an District and found most of them buy tissues from regular distributors offering door-to-door sales and delivery services.

A door-to-door salesman, surnamed Zeng, said his distribution company has more than 20 brands of tissues with prices ranging from 50 yuan (US$7.60) to 80 yuan a box.

"Usually small restaurants will buy from us because we offer a lower price than supermarkets," he said.

Among the restaurants visited, the tissues provided by a hotpot eatery seemed to be of low quality. The tissue felt rough and fell apart easily. Restaurant employees, however, said they had never had complaints about the tissues.

The tissue problem is not just in Shanghai. Last week, China Central Television reported some people were producing tissues with waste paper in Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province. The products were usually sold to small restaurants.

Bureau officials reminded people not to use tissues if they fall apart easily. They also recommended against using colored tissues as harmful dyes may have been added.


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