Coronavirus Singapore

Firm probed for making surgical masks with no licence

Vision Empire International is under investigation for manufacturing surgical masks without a licence at its Ubi Crescent facility (left) in an unhygienic and makeshift environment. The company is also suspected to have imported surgical masks from o
Vision Empire International is under investigation for manufacturing surgical masks without a licence at its Ubi Crescent facility (above) in an unhygienic and makeshift environment. The company is also suspected to have imported surgical masks from overseas before repackaging, rebranding and reselling them without having a licence to do so. PHOTO: HEALTH SCIENCES AUTHORITY
Vision Empire International is under investigation for manufacturing surgical masks without a licence at its Ubi Crescent facility (left) in an unhygienic and makeshift environment. The company is also suspected to have imported surgical masks from o
The masks were sold under the brand Vision Empire Healthcare.PHOTOS: HEALTH SCIENCES AUTHORITY

A local company is being investigated for manufacturing surgical masks here without a licence, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said yesterday.

This is the first time a company here has been suspected of doing this.

The manufacturing was observed taking place in an unhygienic and makeshift environment at Vision Empire International's facility in Ubi Crescent, with the masks placed in cartons and left in the open.

A total of 33 cartons, each containing about 2,500 masks, were seized.

Under the Health Products Act, companies are required to have a licence from HSA to manufacture surgical masks.

Vision Empire International was also suspected to have imported surgical masks from overseas before repackaging, rebranding and reselling them without having a licence to do so.

Both manufactured and repackaged masks were sold under the brand Vision Empire Healthcare.

They were sold on local e-commerce platforms for between $10 and $22 per box of 50 masks, according to preliminary investigations.

Consumers who have purchased the masks are advised to stop using them immediately, HSA said.

It said the product listings have been removed with the assistance of the platform administrators, and Vision Empire International has been directed to recall the products.

Investigations are ongoing, the authority said.

Manufacturers and repackers of surgical masks are licensed by HSA to ensure good quality and safety for use.

In its statement, HSA said surgical masks from unlicensed facilities have not been verified to meet the standards of quality, filtration capability and breathability.

"Substandard masks may not provide the desirable level of protection to the wearer," it said, noting that masks made, repackaged and/or stored in unsanitary conditions could be contaminated.

"Wearing such masks may increase the users' risk of developing skin irritation, respiratory symptoms or infections."

HSA said it will take strong enforcement action against those who illegally manufacture and/or supply masks.

Those who do so could be prosecuted and, if convicted, jailed for up to two years or fined up to $50,000, or both.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 12, 2021, with the headline 'Firm probed for making surgical masks with no licence'. Subscribe