The race to bookstores, department stores, supermarkets, and public markets, for school supplies begins as the school season opens in one week. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) reminds consumers to be vigilant in making sure they buy school materials that are safe to use and of reliable quality.
“It is tempting to just grab whatever is cheap from the shelves for families to maximize their budget. But we, at the Department, would like consumers to understand that budget should not compromise product safety and reliability; and that school supplies that conform to standards’ requirements for performance and safety provide best value for their money,” DTI-Consumer Protection Group (CPG) Undersecretary Atty. Victorio Mario A. Dimagiba said.
The Bureau of Philippine Standards (BPS), under the DTI-CPG, develops or adopts the Philippine National Standards (PNS) on products and services such as school supplies.
DTI-BPS Officer-in-Charge Gerardo P. Maglalang emphasized: “Prior to purchase, carefully check that these school supplies are properly-labeled to be protected against toxic or hazardous substances. The PNS specifies that the packaging of the product should bear the brand or trade mark, name and address of manufacturer/distributor/importer, country of manufacture/origin (if imported), net quantity, and toxicity warning.”
“For example, crayons should be non-toxic, thus, labeled as “non-toxic” as these products, which are often placed in the mouth by young children, may be harmful when its chemical contents exceed the allowed toxicity level,” he added.
The DTI-BPS has developed 37 Philippine National Standards (PNS) on product specifications for school and office supplies. These standards specify the appropriate physical and chemical properties, performance rating and labeling of products that should be patterned by manufacturers to ensure the safety and reliability of their products.
Some of the standard specifications for school supplies are that for pencils—the graphite must not break easily when used under normal writing pressure or sharpened and should indicate the hardness symbol—No. 1, 2, 3; ball point pens must have smooth writing performance; crayons must not easily bend under certain temperature; notebooks and pad papers should specify the number of leaves, types (either primary or intermediate pad paper) and size (143×210 mm for grades I to III, 200×150 mm for grade IV, and 200×250 mm for intermediate pad paper and 148×200 mm for notebooks).
Republic Act 7394, otherwise known as the Consumer Act of the Philippines, states that manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers are liable for injuries caused to consumers by defective and unsafe products as well as giving inadequate information on its use and hazards it pose. Those found guilty of the said provisions shall face administrative charges against R.A. 7394 and will be imposed with monetary fine up to P300,000.
“The DTI enjoins retailers to ensure that the school supplies they distribute and sell are non-toxic and have proper markings to guide consumers,” Undersecretary Dimagiba said.
“While the DTI currently monitors retail prices of school supplies in the market, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ensures that the distributed school supplies in the market are free from hazardous substances,” he added.
DTI reiterates vigilance on the part of consumers and encourages them to report complaints on labels of school supplies to DTI Direct 751.3330 or 0917.8343330.
For more information on the PNS on school supplies, visit www.bps.dti.gov.ph.
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The Department of Trade and Industry welcomes all inquiries, complaints, comments and suggestions from consumers. Call DTI Direct at 751-3330 from Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or visit the DTI website www.dti.gov.ph.