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Watch out for a fake condom!

If you’ve visited China with a significant other recently, you might be in for a shock. The police in eastern China have recently busted a fake condom operation. Yes, you read correctly, a fake condom operation. While 2018 is rife with odd news stories, this has to qualify for one of the most unexpected.

Over 500,000 boxes of bootleg condoms were seized, with a total value of 50 million yuan (SGD$ 9.9 million), and 17 suspects have been detained across Hebei, Henan & Zhejiang. They are under suspicion of manufacturing and selling these bootleg condoms.

If you think that there’s no way you could have been fooled, think again. These bootleg condoms weren’t just nameless condom brands, but major international brands such as Durex and Okamoto. They weren’t sold at shady shophouses either, but were sold to various supermarkets, hotels and vending machine operators, according to Zhejiang television’s report on Tuesday.

“We found the workshops where the suspects made those condoms in rural areas in Henan and Hebei. They were very simple and crude,” said Zheng Xidan, from Cangnan police, according to a report in the South China Morning Post. “The hygienic conditions in those villages were very bad. We saw the condoms they were making – they blended the condoms with silicone oil in a bucket. It was totally below official manufacturing standards.”

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That sounds absolutely disgusting and seems ludicrously unsafe, and the police agree. According to the police in a report by the South China Morning Post, the counterfeits pose a threat to public health. And for good reason, too. Who knows what other dangerous materials could be in those condoms. After all, we’ve already seen many scandals in the past, such as the baby milk powder scandal in 2008. Hopefully, the effects of this fake condom scandal will be much less horrific.

“The hygienic conditions in those villages were very bad. We saw the condoms they were making – they blended the condoms with silicone oil in a bucket. It was totally below official manufacturing standards.”

According to Chen He, a product manager at Beijing-based condom maker Daxiang, in the same report, poor quality condoms were a health risk due to an excessive level of bacteria and fungi.

“Normally the making of condoms, categorised as a medical device that has direct contact with the human body, involves sterilisation and electronic tests for holes and thin spots,” Chen said.

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“But in those illegal workshops, which are often very dirty, it’s unlikely they have the right methods to control the bacteria and fungi level or test for holes.

“The machines are quite expensive and I don’t think they would bother to buy them.

“Some of those cheap condoms are even recycled from used ones.”

The news keeps getting worse (and more disgusting). In the same report, it was stated that these fake condoms were sold to retailers at 1 yuan, or 20 cents. The regular prices of the real condoms were stated to be between 20 to 150 yuan, or SGD$3.96 to SGD $23.76.

That is an insane (and very obvious) difference, and consumers need to vigilant of such scams and counterfeits. Seems like most things that seem too good to be true, are usually too good to be true.

However, a big issue is that some of these counterfeits are not easily noticeable, and all it takes is a simple mistake for an adverse effect to occur. While these types of scandals don’t happen in Singapore, it’s better to err on the side of caution that to pay the price for a bargain.

Condoms are one of the most counterfeited products in China, and a similar case happened in February when 2 million fake condoms that were Durex & Okamoto branded were seized by the Yuncheng police.

Be sure to practice safe sex safely and watch out for a fake condom before using it!

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By Muhd Farhan