Personal protective equipment does not give any guarantee unless certified. Majority of the 100,000 masks seized since April were with false seals of conformity.
The new measures imposed by the covid-19 pandemic gave rise to a massive demand for masks of all types. But many, either surgical, or with particulate filters such as FFP, or so-called fabric social masks, do not offer any guarantee of protection against the spread of the disease.
For this reason, ASAE has been reinforcing inspections of factories, storekeepers, stores, pharmacies and also on internet sellers. On average, since the beginning of April, inspectors have seized about two thousand masks a day. Most have fake security certificates.
The verification of compliance with the technical specifications of personal protective equipment (PPE) available on the market has led ASAE’s special teams of inspectors to fine-tune about 1,000 economic operators from north to south of the country.
One of the biggest seizures took place in an operation in the Cantanhede area, where only one storekeeper had around 70,000 masks with particulate filters. Apparently, they all met safety requirements and were even sold with a certificate of conformity. But a rigorous inspection of the equipment’s characteristics revealed that the certificate was forged and the entire cargo was seized.
The authorities believe that the storekeeper may also have been duped by the importer or the manufacturer himself, located in Eastern European countries.
THREE TYPES OF OFFENSES
Throughout the various inspections, ASAE detected three types of crimes. From the outset, the “production and sale of FFP2 and FFP3 counterfeit masks, with the addition of proprietary international trademarks of PPE, which may mislead the consumer as to their authenticity and compliance with the degree of protection”. There is also the “production and sale of articles with falsified conformity seals / certifications” and also “protective masks (textile article) with the unlawful use / affixing of registered brands or logos (usually associated with traditional clothing brands) and that may not comply with the security requirements “, the source of the ASAE told JN.
The inspections also served to control essential products in a pandemic time, such as alcohol-gel, which, in some cases, did not have the amount of alcohol necessary for efficient disinfection.
Imitations for sale on social media are dangerous
Filter masks or surgical masks are not the only ones to be subject to counterfeiting. ASAE has already detected dozens of manufacturers and sellers of counterfeit masks sporting luxury clothing brands, football clubs or automobiles. In the past few days, ASAE has launched eight criminal cases for violating industrial property rights. These masks are mainly for sale on social networks and on ad sites.
The sellers call them personalized masks and their price ranges from three to 60 euros. Some of the pieces will be manufactured in Brazil and the sellers guarantee that they can get them to Portugal in less than a week. In some cases, verified by the JN, counterfeiters ensure that the masks meet all the safety requirements required by health authorities. But the guarantee is not certified by any official entity.