Bacteria levels of 6 masks sold in Hong Kong exceed EU standards: Consumer Council

Stock photo. Photo: Pixabay/Leo
Stock photo. Photo: Pixabay/Leo

The amount of bacteria found on six models of face masks exceeds European Union (EU) standards, according to a study by Hong Kong’s consumer watchdog.

The Consumer Council recently tested 30 models of single-use surgical face masks of different colours and patterns found in the local market, with an average retail price of HK$1.5 (19 US cents) to HK$9.8 each. 

It found that six models had bioburden levels (that being a measurement of bacteria found on a surface) of 65.1 to more than 219.9 colony forming units per gram, exceeding the limit of 30 set out by an EU standard.

The model found with the highest bioburden — CASETiFY’s Disposable Masks Mushroom — had a value that exceeded the limit by over six times, showing “worrisome hygiene conditions”, the council said.

The other five models are Medox’s Pokemon Korean-style Respirator K-004, SAVEWO’s 3DMASK Memories Coral Sunset, H-PLUS’s The Smurfs 3D Face Mask, Stand Out’s Medical Disposable Face Mask AD01 and masHKer’s Disposable Protective Medical Mask with a Three-layer Filtration (Adult) in Moon Yellow.

“[If] the hygiene condition of the face mask itself is unsatisfactory, it might cause skin problems on the face,” the watchdog added.

The council said that despite such masks generally being considered medical devices, Hong Kong currently has no specific legislation that regulates the manufacture, import, export, sale and use of medical devices. 

The consumer watchdog called for stricter requirements on the quality of face masks as well as strengthening regulations over them. 

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