Official: Fake sanitisers less prevalent

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Officials inspect fake hand sanitisers seized in Phnom Penh last year. Commerce Ministry

The sale of counterfeit or fake alcohol-based sanitising solutions and gels significantly decreased in the first three months of this year as greater awareness has spread within the business community about the problem, according to the Ministry of Commerce’s General Directorate of Consumer Protection, Competition and Fraud Prevention.

Phan Oun, head of the directorate, told The Post on April 7 that this year officials had inspected alcohol and gel retailers and distributors such as markets and pharmacies.

Out of 78 samples of items taken and tested for analysis, only two of them turned out to be fakes.

He said the vendors selling the fake items were not arrested or sent to court because it was their first offence. The officials just asked them to sign a letter promising not to repeat the offence.

“Currently, most of the products available on the market now come with trademarks clearly displayed. That wasn’t the case last year prior to the crackdown,” he said.

According to their report, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the need to comply with preventive measures, officials only checked the locations that had been busted for selling fake merchandise last year.

“This is an important part of our job to spread the word and enforce consumer protections strictly and check on product quality regularly,” he said.

Oun said his directorate had also requested that businesses refrain from engaging in price gouging on health-related items during the pandemic and stock only legitimate products that work as intended.

Oun also called on citizens to be careful when buying alcohol sanitiser solutions and gels by examining the trademarks and the packaging and only buying from trusted sources.

Oun said that in 2020, his directorate seized and burned 94 tonnes of fake alcohol sanitiser and that some of the seizures had resulted in individuals being referred to the court for prosecution.

The Ministry of Interior’s Counter-Counterfeit Committee also works on preventing the sale of fake products to the public.

The committee chairman, Meach Sophanna, said on April 7 that they regularly collaborated with the commerce ministry and the police to investigate the sales of fake product, especially items used to protect people from Covid-19 this past year.

“We know that substandard products are not effective and could harm our citizens’ health,” he said.

Sophanna said his committee had investigated around 20 reported instances of merchants selling fake alcohol and gel sanitisers in the first three months of this year.