Millions of unsafe Covid-19 PPE items seized at Felixstowe port

Suffolk Trading Standards said it examined 11 million goods coming through Felixstowe port between April 1 and September 30 2020.

Millions of unsafe items of PPE coming into Suffolk have been seized by Trading Standards, while data reveals more than half of checked items failed to comply with UK safety laws.

Suffolk Trading Standards reported that it examined 11 million goods between April 1 and September 30 this year across more than 400 different product types coming through the Port of Felixstowe, 10.9m of which was PPE.

The PPE checked was across 102 different consignments, with 5.9m products (more than half of the products checked) failing to comply with UK safety standards.

According to Trading Standards, 90% of the hand sanitiser consignments checked failed the standard, 80% of gloves shipments checked were not up to scratch and 63% of face mask batches assessed failed to make the grade.

A Trading Standards spokesman said: "19% of the hand sanitisers failed on efficacy.

"For those that passed efficacy testing but were non-compliant on labelling, the team worked hard to ensure that where possible these were brought into compliance and re-labelled under the supervision of local Trading Standards authorities, or other agencies such as the Health and Safety Executive.

63% of face mask batches assessed failed to make the grade. Credit: PA

"Over 2.6m face masks were re-purposed as general face coverings, so they were not wasted."

A report prepared for Suffolk County Council's full council meeting this week said additional checklists had been created to identify unsuitable face masks and other PPE items.

Since September, Trading Standards said fewer PPE shipments were coming though the port, but other unsafe items were being checked.

Chief among those listed were children's toys such as inflatable swim seats which left children at risk of drowning, giant teddy bears and baby wrist bells that were a choking hazard; childcare and nursery items including maternity pillows, booster seats for cars and baby strollers; and electrical products including chargers, adaptors, lights and hair straighteners.

The report added: "The work of the team is critically important in ensuring the safety of all consumers, not only in Suffolk but across the entire UK.

"Their activities also help maintain a fair trading environment, preventing illegal operators from gaining an unfair advantage over reputable businesses that expend cost and effort to assure compliance with UK safety law."