Probe in South Korea Reveals Presence of Toxic Chemical in Wide Range of Shein Products

Shein Store

On Tuesday, the government of Seoul, South Korea, disclosed that children’s products sold by the online shopping giant Shein, founded in China, contained alarming levels of toxic substances, far exceeding acceptable limits.

Headquartered in Singapore, Shein has witnessed a meteoric rise in global popularity, offering a wide array of fashionable clothing and accessories at remarkably low prices.

However, this exponential growth has drawn increased scrutiny regarding its business practices and safety standards, both within the European Union and South Korea.

In response, Seoul authorities have intensified their inspections of items sold by various platforms, including Shein, Temu, and AliExpress.

In the latest assessment, eight products from Shein were scrutinized, including children’s shoes, leather bags, and a belt. Shockingly, several were found to contain high levels of phthalates, chemicals utilized to soften plastics.

Shein Clothing

One pair of shoes recorded phthalate levels 428 times above the permissible limit, marking the highest observed during Seoul’s inspections. Additionally, three bags exhibited levels surpassing the limit by as much as 153 times, according to the city government.

Phthalates, commonly employed to impart flexibility to plastics, are present in numerous products such as containers, cosmetics, and toys.

Despite their widespread use, phthalates have long been associated with hormone disruption and various health issues, including obesity, cardiovascular diseases, certain cancers, and fertility problems.

Park Sang-jin, a Seoul city official, informed AFP that they have urged the removal of these hazardous products from sale. Since April, when the city initiated inspections, most platforms have complied with such requests.

In response to inquiries, a Shein spokesperson emphasized the company’s commitment to product safety.

Shein Children’s Clothing

Shein mandates its suppliers to adhere to rigorous controls and standards, collaborating with international third-party testing agencies to ensure compliance with safety protocols.

Upon receiving reports of product safety concerns, Shein promptly withdraws the products from its platform while conducting thorough investigations. Subsequent actions are taken based on the findings.

To date, Seoul authorities have inspected 93 products, revealing that nearly half of them contained toxic substances, including children’s watches and coloring pencils.

Last month, the European Union classified Shein as one of the digital firms subject to stricter safety regulations, particularly concerning protection against unsafe products, especially those posing risks to minors.

Shein and Temu have emerged as contenders challenging Amazon’s dominance, particularly in the US market.

Ethan Johnson
Ethan's journey into journalism began with a deep curiosity about how businesses operate and evolve in today's dynamic markets. Armed with a degree in Journalism from a prestigious university, he embarked on his career, initially covering local business developments before expanding his scope to national and international commerce news.