PUTRAJAYA - The supply and sale of Seven Colour Crystal Balls (SCCB) and similar products have been banned from today.
Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said this followed reports from Kuala Lumpur Hospital on major operations it had to carry out on seven children, aged between 1 and 5, from April last year after they swallowed the substance used as a soil substitute for indoor plants.
The recent cases involved a 12-month-old and another toddler who had to undergo similar laparotomy at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre.
Reports from HKL, he said, stated that substances much like SCCB, which are transparent, jelly-like and slimy, had caused the children's intestines to be clogged.
This easy-to-swallow substance, which is normally 0.5cm in size, when soaked briefly could expand by about six times to take the shape of jelly balls.
However, the ministry, in a two-hour sampling of SCCB using plain water, discovered that the product could expand between 290 and 444 times from its original size.
A two-hour laboratory test on SCCB to simulate the intestines and pH acid level of the human stomach showed that the substance could expand between 36 and 55 per cent.
Ismail Sabri said danger set in when upon swallowing, the water content in the children's intestines causes the balls, also widely known as Jelly Ball, Crystal Jelly, Baby Crystal and Crystal Soil, expanded further, blocking the intestinal walls.
The children would show symptoms like vomiting, fever, constipation and stomach ache as well as leakage and corrosion of the intestines.
He said the ban was necessary as chances of such cases recurring were high as these jelly-like substances were easily available, highly attractive to the young and often mistaken for toys or food.
He said the ban was also enforced in many other countries for hazards that came with it.
With the ban, Ismail Sabri said manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers must stop all sale and supply of SCCB, pull it out from the market as well as safely dispose of it.
Enforcement teams, he said would conduct checks to ensure that all parties adhered to the ban.
The ministry's checks showed that SCCB was imported by two local companies which labelled the substance as "growing kits" to aid the growth of indoor plants and for decorative purposes
Efforts to make parents aware of the dangers of having SCCB in their homes would also be made.
Ismail Sabri also said his ministry would conduct checks and studies to ascertain if other industries, aside from agriculture, were importing SCC.