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Illegal trading of prohibited beauty products proliferates in Tuguegarao City

By: Baby Cuevas

Toxic watchdog group BAN Toxics warns the public against the continuous selling of banned and prohibited beauty products in Tuguegarao City.

In a recent market monitoring conducted by the group, they managed to purchase and document the proliferation of skin whitening products tainted with toxic mercury, priced at P200 to P250, being sold at the Mall of the Valley in Tuguegarao City.

Using a Vanta C Series HH XRF Analyzer, the group found that Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene Avocado & Aloevera had 27,380 parts per million (ppm) of mercury, Goree Day & Night Beauty Cream Oil Free Total Fairness System had 29,930 ppm, and 88 Total White Underarm Cream had 3,895 ppm. All samples contained toxic mercury exceeding the allowable limit of 1 ppm set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as published in the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive.

Mercury is among the World Health Organization’s top ten chemicals of major public health concern. Mercury lightens the skin by suppressing the production of melanin and can also remove age spots, freckles, blemishes, and wrinkles. However, its use can lead to rashes, skin discoloration, and blotching. Mercury can enter the body through absorption, inhalation, or ingestion.

The group has been active in conducting market monitoring and test-buys of different skin-lightening products sold in the market or online to warn the public about the unlawful selling of skin-lightening products (SLPs) containing mercury, a dangerous poison banned in cosmetic product formulations.

“It is alarming to discover that other cities and provinces besides Metro Manila are not spared from the illegal trading of mercury-added skin lightening products, thus jeopardizing public health and the environment,” said Thony Dizon, Toxics Campaigner of BAN Toxics.

Dizon emphasized the need for attention from regulatory agencies and the local government units to proactively conduct monitoring and enforcement actions to apprehend sellers of banned beauty products and eliminate toxic mercury exposure.

The FDA has issued public health advisories against the use and sale of unnotified cosmetic products of the following: Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene SPF 30 Avocado & Aloevera – FDA Advisory No. 2017-289 / FDA Advisory No. 2023-2344; Goree Day & Night Whitening Cream Oil Free – FDA Advisory No. 2017-289 / FDA Advisory No. 2023-2391 and 88 Total White Underarm Cream – FDA Advisory No. 2021-1187.

According to the advisory, “The public is advised not to purchase the aforementioned violative products. Moreover, the public is also advised to be vigilant against cosmetic products that might not be duly notified with FDA.”

“All concerned establishments are warned not to distribute the violative cosmetic products until they have already been covered by the appropriate authorization (cosmetic notification), otherwise, regulatory actions and sanctions shall be strictly pursued.”

“All Local Government Units (LGUs) and Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) are requested to ensure that these products are not sold or made available in their localities or areas of jurisdiction,” the FDA stated.

BAN Toxics encourages consumers to file a report to FDA of any sale, distribution, complaint and/or adverse event related to the use of the violative cosmetic products. The online reporting facility, eReport, can be accessed at [email protected], or consumers can call the Center for Cosmetics and Household/Urban Hazardous Substances Regulation and Research (CCHUHSRR) hotline (02) 8857-1900 loc. 8113 or 8107.


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