(El Nuevo Día)

Statistics on the sale of counterfeit products in Puerto Rico show the need to intensify efforts seeking to warn consumers about the risks of buying this type of goods whose production doesn’t comply with government regulations on safety and other quality controls.

Recently released data point to a $ 2 billion monthly retail business whose production doesn’t necessarily provide proper health and safety guarantees for the people who buy them on the island, where last year federal authorities seized counterfeit goods totaling $ 36 million.

The growth in counterfeit products in Puerto Rico has negative effects on many companies that comply with state and federal retail and wholesale trade laws. This situation has major negative effects in a market affected by recession and other instability factors.

Counterfeit products cover a wide range including consumer products for infants. Experts related to controlling these activities indicated they have even detected packages labeled as milk for babies whose main ingredient turned out to be water with dye.

Experts supervising the consumption of these products in the U.S. have documented the risks that this multi-million dollar business represents for consumers. These sales also reduce local businesses' ability to compete. At the same time, they undermine public revenues for public operation and services.

Certain production safety aspects are missing when products are not inspected and approved by regulatory agencies, and that does not show in their external appearance. However, these deficiencies can emerge in the short term and consumers see how the low-price advantage of this unscrupulous business vanishes immediately.

In the most serious cases, consumers may suffer physical harm from the operation of counterfeit products. In the case of drugs, the risks multiply. Therefore, the recommendation to families is not to buy products that have not been controlled by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

It is also important to seek approvals from other federal regulatory agencies and the support of state entities such as the Department of Consumer Affairs. This local agency should proactively promote guidance to discourage citizens from exposing themselves to the risks of the counterfeit market, currently boosted by cyber widespread advertising and e-commerce convenience.

The dynamics of the counterfeit market, stimulated by an irresponsible consumption based on questionable savings violate all legal provisions on intellectual property and patents, which are the product of development research development and rigorous testing processes for original products.

Therefore, we expect customs controls to use and maintain modern technological systems and mechanisms to track and seize large shipments of products intended for sale.

However, it is crucial to promote a conscious consumption culture to discourage the trade of counterfeit products which in many cases are ordered online and delivered by mail to the homes of thousands of people.

The government must work on partnerships with private companies to intensify consumer information campaigns seeking to put a stop to the growing spiral of these sales.

Meanwhile, citizens have to assume responsible practices focused on families' well-being and not support the sale of these products. Collaboration with the authorities, through confidential information, can help to curb this type of trade. Customs authorities have asked this to strengthen controls focused on improving the well-being of Puerto Rican consumers.

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