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Revealed: How Temu sells blades and BB guns without age checks – as documentary uncovers a host of concerns over the Chinese retailer

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Blades and BB guns are being sold on Chinese retailer Temu without age checks, a shocking documentary has revealed. 

In the UK it is against the law to sell blades to consumers under the age of 18 and even foreign-based companies need to verify the ages of customers buying restricted items. 

However, a new Channel 4 documentary has uncovered that the company – which sells products at dirt-cheap prices – is still not complying with these regulations. 

The Truth About Temu: Dispatches also revealed a host of other concerns with Temu – including the discovery of alarming levels of dangerous metals in products aimed at children.

Using the app which has around 15 million UK users, investigative reporter Ellie Flynn ordered a saw and two BB guns. 

Blades and BB guns are being sold on Chinese retailer Temu without age checks, a shocking documentary has revealed

Blades and BB guns are being sold on Chinese retailer Temu without age checks, a shocking documentary has revealed

In the UK it is against the law to sell blades to consumers under the age of 18 and even foreign-based companies need to verify the ages of customers buying restricted items

In the UK it is against the law to sell blades to consumers under the age of 18 and even foreign-based companies need to verify the ages of customers buying restricted items

Using the app which has around 15 million UK users, investigative reporter Ellie Flynn ordered a saw and two BB guns

Using the app which has around 15 million UK users, investigative reporter Ellie Flynn ordered a saw and two BB guns

She said: ‘No questions asked, I’ve managed to get hold of a really really sharp saw. 

‘I bought these items without being asked to prove my age.’ 

According to the documentary, six months ago the consumer group Which also bought age-restricted weapons from Temu and the company vowed to review its processes to prevent similar cases from occurring again. 

However, as Ellie concluded in the programme: ‘[This] has obviously not happened yet if I could buy them without any checks.’ 

When contacted for comment by Channel 4, Temu said: ‘We have been testing an age-verification system in the UK and expect to roll it out soon.’ 

Temu generates profits by cutting out the middleman, with the merchants sending the item directly to the buyer.

Concerns had previously been raised over its practices after it controversially offered shoppers enormous discounts in return for use of their personal data, and a father claimed his 11-year-old daughter had suffered third-degree burns using nail glue bought from the site.

Ellie purchases different items from the website in the program and puts them through rigorous testing along with checking the legitimacy of products approved by external organisations.

Six months ago the consumer group Which also bought age-restricted weapons from Temu and the company vowed to review its processes to prevent similar cases from occurring again

Six months ago the consumer group Which also bought age-restricted weapons from Temu and the company vowed to review its processes to prevent similar cases from occurring again

Ellie bought a gold chain for £2.97 and said it did not list the ingredients online

Ellie bought a gold chain for £2.97 and said it did not list the ingredients online 

The clasp of the gold chain contained 17mg per kg of lead and the trigger had 26.7mg per kg of lead

The clasp of the gold chain contained 17mg per kg of lead and the trigger had 26.7mg per kg of lead

She bought a silver effect necklace for £2.17, a gold effect chain for £2.97, and a children’s jacket jacket for £11.09. None of the items listed any ingredients on the website.

Ellie sent these items off to a toxicology lab for testing to see whether the materials used in them were safe.

The rules on selling bladed items in the UK

It is illegal to sell most knives or any weapons to anyone under the age of 18. 

In Scotland, you are allowed to sell cutlery and kitchen knives to 16 and 17 year olds.  

It is also illegal to carry most knives or any weapons in public without a ‘good reason’. 

If the knife or weapon is not banned, some examples of ‘good reasons’ include using it for work, for religious reasons or as part of any national costume. 

Source: GOV.UK 

But the findings shocked Laurence Harwood, a professor of organic chemistry, University of Reading, who said he was ‘very concerned’ about the contents of the items.

The silver necklace contained 10 times more lead than is legally allowed in the UK. The gold chain also had the harmful metal in the clasp of the jewellery piece.

The clasp contained 17mg per kg of lead and another part had 26.7mg per kg of lead, much higher than what is permissible and two times more lead than what is allowed in the UK.

Professor Harwood said: ‘When lead builds up in the body, often over months or years, even small amounts of lead can lead to serious health problems [such as] reduced sperm count, miscarriages [and] stillbirth.’

The gold chain also had 27 times more Cadmium than the UK allows, a metal that with prolonged exposure, has been linked to kidney damage and bone degradation, according to the documentary.

The children’s jacket that Ellie bought from the site had 82.5mg per kg of antimony in brown material and 33.6mg per kg in the leather part of the jacket.

Professor Harwood said: ‘These are absolutely unacceptable higher levels of antimony. Over a long period of time this could have very, very bad effects on the body, in particular the nervous system.’

He was most concerned about this material, despite there being no restrictions on how much antimony can be used in clothes.

He added: ‘I’m very concerned [by these results]. Children younger than six are particularly vulnerable to lead poisoning and this could have all sorts of effects on mental development and physical development.

Professor Laurence Harwood was very concerned about the findings and said exposure to toxic metals can severely impact your health

Professor Laurence Harwood was very concerned about the findings and said exposure to toxic metals can severely impact your health 

Ellie said the Temu app has spinning wheels and prizes on to engage their customers (stock image)

Ellie said the Temu app has spinning wheels and prizes on to engage their customers (stock image)

‘In pregnant women, it can cause stillbirth. It can cause neurological issues in old and young alike.’

In response to these findings, Temu told Channel 4 that their tests did confirm some items exceeded acceptable limits for heavy metals, that these have been permanently removed and that they were working with the merchants involved.

It stated: ‘We aim not just to meet the minimum legal requirements but to exceed them and will continue to devote significant resources to improving consumer protection.’

Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith has expressed concern over Temu – not only for the ‘gambling-like’ elements of the app, but also for the personal data belonging to Brits.

He said: ‘I think the Temu system is based on gambling technology. Instead of gambling on the outcome of something, [you] are gambling to get cheaper products.

‘It’s based very much on the way gambling companies work to get you addicted to their products.’

Temu also presented its customers with an ‘offer’ to get a £50 voucher, but the catch was that you had to agree to permanently hand over considerable amounts of personal data.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘The Chinese government demands data from Temu, from any Chinese company, [and] under the national security law, they are obliged to hand it over.

‘I believe almost all of these companies, like Temu, are data-harvesters. One of their prime purposes is to sift data, first of all collect it and then pass it on to the intelligence services.

‘[They] will then sift through to see if there is anything of interest, anybody of interest, any job that someone is in which is interesting.

Channel 4 Dispatches investigative reporter Ellie Flynn sets out to explore the quality and safety of its products

Channel 4 Dispatches investigative reporter Ellie Flynn sets out to explore the quality and safety of its products

Concerns have been raised about Temu after 11-year-old Chloe Norris was left in hospital after her father bought her an at-home manicure set from the online outlet

Concerns have been raised about Temu after 11-year-old Chloe Norris was left in hospital after her father bought her an at-home manicure set from the online outlet

‘The job of the government is to defend people from that kind of theft of their personal data. The UK is slow on the pickup on this.’

Temu said that its data practices are clearly stated in its terms and conditions on its website.

But when Ellie goes online to read how her data will be used and stored, it flashes up for just seconds before it redirects her back to the login page.

She said: ‘Alarm bells are sounding, why won’t they let you read the terms and conditions?’

UK consumer rights laws, even foreign companies that market their products to the UK market need to make their privacy policies viewable, according to the documentary.

Temu later said it had found a bug ‘affecting a small number of users’ and that it had now ‘been fixed’.

MailOnline has contacted Temu for further comment.  



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