Satisfactory marks for condoms, but some don't live up to hype

Top News | Sophie Hui 16 Oct 2020

Some condoms may not be as thin as claimed and may have misleading descriptions, the consumer watchdog says.

Thirty products manufactured by nine brands - priced between HK$3.50 to HK$22 per condom - all performed satisfactorily in terms of water leakage and breakage.

And yet Consumer Council chief executive Gilly Wong Fung-han said traders promote the thinness of condoms by adding numbers such as "0.01" prominently on a third of the products tested.

It is to attract consumers, who might understand this as referring to the condom's thinness.

But Wong said the numbers do not refer to any unit of measurement and could mislead buyers.

"All the different words and the printing on the packages, like 0.01, 0.02 or 0.03 can potentially be seen as product descriptions," she said.

"But obviously whether it constitutes a violation of the [Trade Descriptions Ordinance] highly depends on whether it is materially critical."

Wong urged condom manufacturers to "disclose the information very clearly - what exactly it means and what kind of unit it is referring to - so consumers can buy the product according to fair and transparent comparisons."

For two products labelled "001" - Aoni Extra Smooth Ultrathin 001 and Aoni Nanosilver Ultrathin 001 - their actual thickness was 0.054mm and 0.055mm respectively.

The packaging contained wording including "verified as the world's thinnest latex condom."

But the supplier said it has never claimed that "001" was associated with condom thinness.

The watchdog reminded consumers to be cautious about marketing messages on product packages and urged manufacturers to improve product labeling.

Seventeen models were described as "ultrathin," "extra thin," "superthin" and "equivalent to the thinness of a soap bubble."

But the watchdog found that the average thickness of eight "ultrathin" models was between 0.025mm to 0.057mm, a difference of 1.3 times.

"There is no standard set for the thickness of condoms. Different manufacturers have their own definitions," said the chairwoman of the council's research and testing committee, Nora Tam Fung-yee.

"The most practical advice to consumers is to buy in small quantities and try it out for comfort."

To test the condoms, the watchdog took 315 samples of each model. Four models were found to have a sample of water leakage.

These were Aoni Nanosilver Ultrathin 001, Wonder Life Supreme Ultra Thin Condoms, Wonder Life 0.01 Polyurethane Condom and Wonder Life 0.02 Polyurethane Condom.

Five latex condoms saw two to eight samples break under low volume or pressure, including Sagami Xtreme Feel Fit, JEX Glamourous Butterfly Jell Rich, Aoni Nanosilver Ultrathin 001, Aoni Extra Smooth Ultrathin 001 and Wonder Life Supreme Ultra Thin Condoms.

But all the models did not exceed international standards for water leakage and blasting limits, so their overall performance is satisfactory.

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