Lab which tested for 'unsafe rubber band looms' taken to task for lack of due diligence

A test laboratory which said that five out of eight rubber band loom samples had not passed safety tests was taken to task by Spring Singapore. -- PHOTO: EUNICE SNG 
A test laboratory which said that five out of eight rubber band loom samples had not passed safety tests was taken to task by Spring Singapore. -- PHOTO: EUNICE SNG 

SINGAPORE - A test laboratory which claimed that five out of eight rubber band loom samples had not passed safety tests was taken to task by Spring Singapore, which said that the company did not exercise due diligence before publishing the reports.

Insight Laboratories had tested a sample of rubber looms, which has become popular among children, sent to them by Mediacorp for a story on their news website Channel NewsAsia.

CNA quoted Insight Laboratories managing director Joel Tan as saying that samples exceeded safe levels of phthalates in a report published on Sept 2.

That sparked off an investigation by Spring Singapore, which commissioned tests with two other accredited test laboratories. Both test labs verified "that the products all had acceptable levels of phthalates," said Spring.

Insight Laboratories was also not able to provide the test reports to substantiate its initial claims, said Spring.

"It only produced the reports three days later, after another set of tests had been conducted. These results differed from the first set of results released publicly, in that one of the five supposedly failed products was then tested to be safe," said Spring.

"We further understand that two other retests conducted by Insight Laboratories and their partner laboratory in China respectively had also found that all products passed the safety requirements for phthalates."

Spring said it takes a serious view of all feedback on consumer safety.

But this includes the proper verification of test results to avoid creating unfounded concerns among consumers, it added.

"Spring endeavours to provide timely safety information to the public. However it is critical that proper verification is conducted to prevent undue public concern. In this case, Spring finds Insight Laboratories' conduct and professionalism wanting."

The government agency said that it will be referring the issue with Insight Laboratories' accreditation body.