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Samsonite pulls bags from HK amid safety scare

Associated Press Modified: June 18, 2012 at 6:31 am •  Published: June 18, 2012
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HONG KONG (AP) — Samsonite International SA pulled its "Tokyo Chic" line of luggage from Hong Kong stores on Monday after a local consumer group reported finding high levels of compounds linked to cancer in the handles, although the company insisted the bags were safe.

The Hong Kong Consumer Council said last week it found that the side handles on three Samsonite suitcases had higher levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons than recommended in voluntary guidelines.

The compounds are commonly found in plastics, rubber and lubricating oil and it's possible that traces were left during manufacturing, the council said. They've been known to cause cancer and birth defects in animals.

Samsonite said it commissioned independent tests from German and Hong Kong laboratories that showed levels were "significantly lower" than the council's findings.

The consumer council said its tests showed levels were particularly high in a suitcase sold under the Tokyo Chic line. Samsonite said it has withdrawn all luggage from that line from Hong Kong shelves to allay the fears of local customers and would replace the handles.

The company is not pulling Tokyo Chic luggage from other markets.

Samsonite said there are no legal guidelines for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. The council used guidelines set under a voluntary German scheme for its tests.

The company said that based on the independent tests and expert advice, it was "confident that consumers can continue to use its luggage products without any safety or health concerns."

Samsonite said it doesn't expect the safety scare to affect its financial results. The company's stock, which is traded in Hong Kong, rebounded to close 7.6 percent higher after falling 16 percent on Friday.