The national Department of Health (NDoH) and the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) want to assure South Africans that government-issued condoms, which are branded as MAX condoms, are safe to use

This follows reports of condoms that were being recycled and resold in Vietnam.

“Condoms cannot and should not be shared, reused or recycled. South Africa has made great strides in reducing the spread of HIV and Aids and other sexually transmitted diseases, and we will not compromise the health of our nation,” said director general of health Dr Sandile Buthelezi.

“We remain vigilant and committed to ensuring that quality health products and services are available to every community. In South Africa, the NDoH distributes a billion free condoms annually. Every batch of these condoms, which are branded as MAX, is subject to stringent manufacturing and packing requirements and testing is conducted against a South African National Standard.

“South African MAX condoms are of the highest quality and South Africans are encouraged to use these and to dispose of them responsibly,” Buthelezi said.

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Stringent testing

According to the SABS, each pack of MAX condoms contains individually foil packed condoms, in lubricant. The packaging clearly stipulates the batch and lot number, the expiration date and the “SABS-approved” quality mark. It warned South Africans not to use expired condoms or packages that seem to be damaged or leaking. Each condom can only be used once and should be wrapped in tissue or toilet paper after use and disposed of in a bin.

“Every batch of MAX condoms that is distributed in South Africa, is subject to stringent testing and quality control by the SABS. The SABS tests every batch of MAX condoms in [a] dedicated, accredited laboratory based in Groenkloof, Pretoria. The condoms that are issued by the NDoH are subjected to additional testing and sampling criteria to increase the quality controls that are contained in the national and global standards.

“MAX condoms are of a superior quality than other brands that are sold in South Africa, simply because of the additional, independent testing of every batch that is produced,” said Jodi Scholtz, lead administrator of the SABS.

MAX condoms are tested in accordance with SANS/ISO 4074 requirements for natural rubber latex condoms, she added.

Additional sampling and packaging criteria as set out by the NDoH, are:

  • Inflation bursting pressure and volume for elasticity and stretch
  • Testing of holes in the condoms
  • Design testing, which includes the determination of lubricant in each packet
  • Determination of dimensions (length, width and thickness)
  • Testing of packet integrity (water immersion)
  • Visual inspection

“If a sample fails any of the tests the whole batch will be destroyed, thus ensuring that no defective products will enter the South African market.”

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While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.