Online fashion retailer Asos has withdrawn a batch of metal studded leather belts after they were found to be radioactive.
The peplum belts could cause injury if worn for more than 500 hours, according to an Asos internal report.
One of the belts was pulled by US border control and tested positive for Cobalt-60, The Guardian reported. The retailer has now recalled the product, which is sold across 14 countries.
It led to a worldwide recall of the items, with 49 sold across 14 countries, but it is not known how many have been returned.
According to the newspaper, the Asos report said: “Unfortunately, this incident is quite a common occurrence. India and the Far East are large consumers of scrap metal for their home and foreign markets. During the refining process of these metals, orphaned radioactive sources are sometimes accidentally melted at the same time. This in turn [contaminates the process] and traps the radioactivity in the metal as an alloy or in suspension.”
A spokesman for Asos said: “A product supplied to Asos did not meet UK health and safety standards. Asos worked with all relevant authorities and undertook a precautionary product recall, in line with our high standards of quality and customer care. No other Asos product lines are affected.
“Asos continues to work with the relevant regulatory authorities and is in dialogue with the supplier and the factory workers involved to ensure a satisfactory outcome.”
However, a row has broken out with Indian supplier Haq International, which produces the belts. The newspaper said that belts do not match the description of those supplied by Haq International. Owner Faizan Haq, along with Asos, have been restricted access to the belts however it is a believed date has been set for representatives to inspect the products.
Asos claims that codes on the boxes match those supplied by Haq and discrepancies over the number of metal studs is due to the product being handmade.
Independent tests by the Health Protection Agency at Haq’s London warehouse found there was no radiation from any of the belts, while in India the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board carried out an inspection that has not been shared with him.
The retailer has withheld £64,000 owed to Haq, although £24,000 has now been paid. Haq said he has had to cancel orders with Miss Selfridge and shut his factory for five months, leaving 18 Indian workers without jobs.
Workers have held daily protests outside the factor in the Uttar Pradesh province in northern India.