'Preservatives overused' in wet wipes

The majority of wet wipes tested by the city's market watchdog didn't mark the preservatives they contained, officials said.

Wet wipes, including some marked suitable for babies, have been found wanting by the city’s market watchdog. 

Most wet wipes tested by the Shanghai Industrial and Commercial Administrative Bureau didn’t mark the preservatives used, officials said. There was also overuse of preservatives.

The bureau tested 45 batches of wet wipes. Among them, 35 batches were found to contain at least one of 17 preservatives the bureau was targeting, including many batches of baby wet wipes. Only 15.6 percent among the 45 batches marked one or more of the preservatives, according to the bureau.

The most common preservative used was benzoic acid, with 10 batches found to have it, among which eight batches were used by infants. It was followed by paraben and phenoxyethyl alcohol, each found in eight batches.

Adding preservatives helps to control health risks from microbial contamination, but preservatives are also irritating and allergic to skin and mucous membranes, and children are particularly vulnerable, officials said.

The less preservatives in wet wipes, the better, they said.

But 49 percent of the wet wipes found to contain preservatives had two or more preservatives, with the percentage being 44 percent for wet wipes used by babies.

Four batches of baby wet wipes had three preservatives, and one had four, the bureau said.

Producers of wet wipes should use scientific methods to assess the type and amount of preservatives when developing their wet wipe formats, officials said.

In addition, 14 batches of these wet wipes were said to have the effect of mouth cleaning, which can make the preservatives absorbed by digestive system, officials alerted.

Consumers are advise to examine the tags on wet wipes, and choose those that don’t have any odor. They should also avoid using wet wipes on faces.

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