Luggage maker Samsonite recalls 250,000 cases after handles are made of compound linked to cancer
- Hong Kong consumer group found higher than recommended hydrocarbon levels
- Luggage maker moves to reassure customers about its Tokyo Chic case
- Samsonite expects the recall will end up costing $500,000
By SEAN POULTER
Samsonite is recalling 250,000 suitcases, including some sold through UK online stores, amid concerns about toxic chemicals.
The move follows tests by a consumer group which found traces of a cancer-risk chemical in handles on the luxury bags.
The recall relates to the Tokyo Chic brand, which is part of the American Tourister range.
Recall: Samsonite products are displayed at a store in Hong Kong where the testing on the Tokyo Chic suitcases that has led to the recall was carried out
In Britain these cases are advertised by specialist online firms such as bagsdirect.com and luggagehut.co.uk, rather than high street outlets.
Bagsdirect.com was selling a Tokyo Chic expandable upright trolley case in black pearl print at £64.99 on its website yesterday.
A spokesman for the firm said Samsonite generally dispatches these and other designs from a large warehouse in Belgium.
Samsonite, a US company, pulled the line from Hong Kong stores earlier this week to replace the side handles.
Concern: Testing in Hong Kong, a popular shopping destination, detected the high level of cancer linked compounds
The move came after Hong Kong’s Consumer Council reported that a sample it tested had levels of poly- cyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that were higher than recommended in voluntary guidelines.
The compounds are commonly found in plastics, rubber and lubricating oil and it is possible that traces were left during manufacturing, the council said.
They have been known to cause cancer and birth defects in animals. The council’s tests gave readings for the compounds that were off the charts at 17,960 milligrams per kilo.
Samsonite commissioned independent tests from German and Hong Kong laboratories that showed levels were ‘significantly lower’ than the council’s findings. Those tests found 17 milligrams per kilo of the compound, said Ramesh Tainwala, Samsonite’s Asia-Pacific and Middle East president.
He said: ‘A human being has to eat 100 handles and then you have the probability of one in a billion chance of getting cancer.’
The Tokyo Chic suitcases are sold mainly in Asia. Samsonite expects to spend £320,000 on the recall, which involves 250,000 suitcases sold over the past three years.
The company said it will take about a week to replace the handles on 30,000 cases still in stock.
In Hong Kong, about 800 people have contacted the company about the suitcases and about 240 have asked for the handles on their bags to be replaced, Mr Tainwala said.
Samsonite said there are no legal guidelines for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. The council used guidelines set under a voluntary German scheme for its tests.
British consumers who own a Tokyo Chic suitcase are being told that they should contact the retailer it came from for advice.
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