October 30, 2009

Fake product:How safe is Nigeria?

By Moses Nosike
Today, the rate at which  fake, substanddard and expired prodcts are spreading is alarming, and so lives are no more safe as you think it.

Recently, there was a killer product “My Pikini”, which was circulated in town. Surprisingly  the product sent a good number of children to early grave after consumption. And this exerperience I believe cannot never be erased  in the minds of families of the victims. Care should be taken on the type of product we consume in this country because what we consume tells a lot on our health and level of comfort derived.

However, we give kudos to Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) for a newly informed strategies to wage war against the menace of fake, substandard and expired products at all level in the Nigerian market. Considering the fact that health is wealth Nigerians should be offered the best product.

Among the damage that has been caused by the export of Chinese products all over the world, even more serious than their effect on Western economies is the damage they have caused to the health of consumers.

We can see this by examining the number of deaths due to the use of illegally produced drugs, food and beverages: 38 deaths in Panama and 11 in China due to ingestion of drugs containing diethylene glycol; in China, 13 infants died after having ingested powdered milk which lacked nutritional value; 11 deaths and dozens of individuals stricken with food poisoning caused by a liquor that had been adulterated with formaldehyde; 23 dead in Turkey in 2005 after drinking a “modified” version of raki – a typical Turkish liquor – containing lethal doses of methyl alcohol (the bottles featured the original labels, that had been stolen by the counterfeiters and pasted on the illegal products). If we think for a moment that these are the official data, we can only imagine the true statistics.

Experts in the criminality and counterfeiting sectors tell us that some Chinese products are harmful on more levels than we can conceive of – not only do counterfeiters ignore trademark and copyright laws; they do not take production norms into consideration, nor ant laws concerning security in the workplace or product safety. In order to maximize their profits outside the borders of legality, they use raw materials that are cheap or even prohibited by international laws, materials that are dangerous to the health.

That is the reason why our homes are flooded with toothpaste containing anti-freeze, toxic tomato sauce and low-quality rice. Chinese counterfeit products include the tests used by diabetics in order to control their glycemic levels (which are sold in pharmacies, as revealed by research performed by the Johnson & Johnson company). To this we can also add shampoo containing nitrosamine, which is derived from low-quality raw matters which are both cancerous and cause liver damage.

Another vehicle utilized in the promotion of illegal counterfeit products is the internet. Almost everyone receives email offers for products like Viagra. But if you purchase these goods online, you risk buying goods that are counterfeit both in brand name and in their composition.

Worse, these dangers do not only come from drugs, food products and cosmetics. Western consumers buy clothing and products such as pocketbooks, tote bags, t-shirts, shoes and sun glasses rather light-heartedly. These could also be dangerous: a shirt dyed with aniline (which is prohibited) can be cancer-causing, as could be shoes which are produced with toxic glues or paints and sun glasses with low-quality solar filters in their lenses, which may cause eye damage.

Extremely dangerous electric appliances are produced in China and possibly worst of all, toys. The risk factor is manifold: injuries, electric shock, burns, suffocation and chemical intoxication.

Buying counterfeit articles should be avoided by accurately choosing who you buy from. The amount we spend to purchase a counterfeit bag is immediately reinvested by the counterfeiters for the production of other kinds of goods including illicit drugs and arms. We must begin to see the counterfeit market for what it really is. It is an organized criminal activity.

While we wait for effective safety measures to be put in place and respected, boycotting everything that comes from China seems to be the only concrete solution.