CHOICE # 241

15 November 1996
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  • How to choose a personal computer ?
  • Complaints on Internet charges & charges
  • Heavy metals detected in dried oysters
  • Down quilts deviate from label claims
  • How can Hong Kong be benefited from competition laws ?
  • Children in risks of suffocation by plastic bags of karaoke discs 
  • Guidelines on food recall
  • Does fluorescent tube release radiation ?
  • Building safety comes first in the purchase of flats
  • Property transactions in North Point (Eastern HK Island)

Suppliers of Chinese dried seafood are urged to heed closely the quality of the food to safeguard the health of consumers.

And for those who favour Chinese dried seafood as a part of their regular diet, spare a thought for the potential hazard that it may pose due to contamination by heavy metals. Consumers are encouraged to take a balanced diet.

This advice followed a Consumer Council test on the various types of dried seafood popular with Chinese especially during the cooler seasons.

The test analysed the dried seafood samples for their content of heavy metal contaminants such as chromium, cadmium, lead, tin, antimony, arsenic (as arsenic trioxide) and mercury which, in excessive quantity, can be harmful to health.

Varying traces of heavy metals were detected in the majority of samples. Included in the samples were dried oyster, dried abalone, dried whelk and dried mussel.

But these is no cause for alarm as the levels of contaminants, according to the test, were mostly within the safety limit of the law. The limit is stipulated in the Food Adulteration (Metallic contamination) Regulations.

Two dried oyster samples were, however, found to contain cadmium in excess of the statutory safety limit. But they are unlikely to lead to significant health risks as the food is not consumed regularly in large amount by the average population.

Excessive intake of cadmium causes kidney damage, skeletal diseases particularly in people with malnutrition, and restriction of transfer of essential elements for brain development of the fetus in pregnant women.

For details of the test findings, consumers are advised to consult this November issue of 'CHOICE'.


When it comes to labelling the down content, some manufacturers of down quilts are less than totally accurate.

According to a Consumer Council test, their actual down content, in many cases, was less than the label claim.

Among the 16 quilt samples tested, 14indicated on the label their down content varying in quantity from 50% to 90%.

But the test revealed a discrepancy of at least 10 percent less, by weight, in one half (7) of the samples.

The most serious was detected in a sample which claimed 50% down content but was actually only 22% or a discrepancy of 28%.

The other half of the samples fared better with differences of only a few percent.

In the UK and US where there are labelling guidelines, they allow wide tolerances ranging from 15 to 30 percent variation in the labelling of down content of quilts. In China and Australia, the tolerance in variation was only from 2 to 5 percent.

As the down content is one of the crucial criteria in the selection of down quilts, consumers clearly need to be better informed.

Manufacturers of down quilts are urged to exercise more self-discipline to ensure accuracy in the labelling of down content as there is, at present, no labelling guideline or standard in Hong Kong.

Besides actual down content, the test also examined down quilts for their thermal resistance, dry cleaning performance, weight and smell.

According to the test, all down quilts were rated "warm" in the warmth classification. But the price does not necessarily bear correlation with its thermal resistance performance.

In general, down quilts were lighter than silk and mixed silk wadding quilts.

As winter is fast approaching, consumers contemplating the purchase of down quilts will find the report in this 241stissue of 'CHOICE' timely and useful.


You may know all the tricks to perform magic on the computer - surf the cyberspace, send and receive e-mail and fax, play electronic games, watch video and produce all kinds of document.

But buying a new personal computer (PC) is as intimidating to the initiated as it is absolutely confusing to the novice.

Consumers are confronted in the market with such a plethora of hardware standards of various types invariably couched in complex acronyms and jargons.

Starting this November issue of 'CHOICE', a series of comprehensive articles dealing with practical anything you need to know in setting up a home personal computer will be published to assist you in choosing and buying the right PC system.

The series offer independent and objective data and information different from those promoted by suppliers.

The report noted that there are different approaches in buying a PC. Consumers can choose a whole set of branded PC system, or can order package made up of your own favourite pieces.

Alternatively, consumers can even choose the do-it-yourself way - buy separate parts and assemble the whole system by your own.

There are both pros and cons for these different approaches.

Consumers will find in the report many important points which need to be carefully considered, before deciding on the purchase of a personal computer.

Consumers are also cautioned to be wary of the practices of some dishonest shops. It is possible for the shops to use cheap and poor performance parts in the assembly if consumers do not specify the brand and model of the parts clearly.

Consumers unfamiliar with computer hardware will do well to have someone knowledgeable to help in the whole buying and inspection process.


Karaoke singing is great fun. So don't let any accident ruin the occasion.

The potential hazard lies with the plastic bag that holds the laser disc.

Plastic bags of this type are known to cause accident to young children who play with them as toys.

According to the US Consumer Products Safety Commission, between 1980 and 1987, 112 children died of suffocation after the plastic bags which they put over their head, blocked the nose and mouth and prevented breathing.

80 percent of the victims were under the age of one year.

So, the next time when you do Karaoke at home or elsewhere and when there are babies and toddlers around, be sure to keep those plastic bags properly away from them.

The Council has found that some of the laser disc plastic bags do not carry any warning of the potential suffocation hazard to young children.

It is possible that the original plastic bags that come with the warning, were replaced after wear and tear by blank plastic bags that do not carry the same.

The Council has urged video rental shops to use thicker plastic bags as the thinner the bags the more hazardous they are, and to ensure that they carry a warning statement in both Chinese and English. Some video shops have already agreed to follow this advice.