Many napkins used in restaurants are unhygienic and of poor quality, while some are just toilet paper, China Central Television said over the weekend. Even IKEA napkins are substandard, CCTV claimed.
In an undercover report, a vendor at a wholesale market in the northern Handan City said restaurants there usually bought the cheapest napkins or even toilet paper to give to diners.
A pack of 0.5 yuan napkins costs 2 yuan at restaurants, while free napkins are toilet paper, the vendor said.
There were also short-weight problems. A pack of napkins which should contain 160 pieces of paper, as indicated on the pack, contained just over 30, the vendor said.
One restaurant worker was recorded as saying the napkins it used were substandard, but cheap.
More than half the restaurants in Handan visited by CCTV reporters provided poor quality napkins, easily torn while being used and some with holes in them.
Napkins at IKEA stores and several big Chinese napkin brands like Jierou were found substandard for problems like tensile strength and moisture content in a test by the Beijing Consumer Association, CCTV reported.
A third of 30 napkin samples bought randomly from supermarkets, wholesale markets and IKEA in Beijing failed the association's quality test. Another five had labelling problems.
Fantastisk napkin samples made by IKEA and sold at IKEA's Beijing outlets easily fell apart and stuck to the skin while being used and failed the index of tensile strength in wet conditions, the test found.
They are also available at Shanghai's IKEA outlets.
A staff member at the Xujiahui outlet said it had no notification about the 9.9 yuan product but the information would be put on the official website if it did.
A company spokesman said its offices were closed yesterday but it would be responding to the claims today.
Jierou napkins made by C&S Paper Co were found to have excessive moisture content, while the number of napkins bearing the brand Breeze and produced by the Gold HongYe Paper Group did not match the figure marked on its packaging.
Napkin samples made by Piaohe Paper based in Guangdong contained excessive fungal colonies, which are harmful for health.
The Beijing association also tested 35 toilet paper samples and found three had quality problems.
Shanghai toilet paper brand Shuangchuan failed for excessive bacterial colonies, the association said.
The Shanghai Consumer Rights Protection Commission said a quality inspection by the Shanghai Quality and Technical Supervision Bureau last June found all 34 batches of napkins and wet wipes made or sold in the city passed tests.
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