A group assisting the government in weeding out mercury-laced cosmetics from the market slammed the cruel sale of skin whitening creams previously recalled for posing “imminent danger or injury” to consumers.
The EcoWaste Coalition criticized defiant retailers after obtaining 45 pieces of 12 banned skin lightening products in test buys the group carried out from August 24 to 26, 2011 in the cities of Las Piñas, Makati, Mandaluyong, Manila, Muntinlupa, Pasay and Quezon in Metro Manila, Cebu in the Visayas and Davao in Mindanao.
“It is still business as usual for some Metro Manila cosmetic retailers who willfully sell the mercury-tainted skin whitening products, stubbornly defying the ban,” observed Aileen Lucero, Safe Cosmetics Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
“In Davao City, a retail outlet would not even sell Jiaoli singly, but by the dozen,” she said.
“Gladly, we did not find any of the recalled products at the shops we visited in Cebu City,” she added.
"We appeal to cosmetic traders and retailers to stop the heartless sale of mercury-added cosmetics and protect users from toxic harm," she pleaded.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director Suzette Lazo last August 4, 2011 released an expanded list of banned 50 skin whitening creams containing mercury above the 1 part per million (ppm) threshold limit.
The list contains the 11 brands tested last month by the EcoWaste Coalition in partnership with IPEN that were found to contain from 1,085 to 28,600 ppm of mercury, a toxic metal that can cause allergic reactions, skin irritations and other neurotoxic effects.
Yoko Gentleman Cream by Siam Yoko Co. Ltd., Thailand (which sells from 20 to 50 pesos) and Jiaoli Miraculous Cream by Gelidai Jiaobao Cosmetics Co. Ltd., China (which sells from 80 to 120 pesos) were the top two “most available” brands in the market from among the banned products.
Other banned products that the EcoWaste Coalition’s AlerToxic Patrol procured during its latest test buys were Beauty Girl Natural Olive and Sheep Double Whitening Speckles Removed Essence, Berglotus Spot Removing Series, Doctor Bai Intensive White Revitalizing and Speckle Removing Set, JJJ Magic Spots Removing Cream, Jiaoli 10 Days Eliminating Freckle Day and Night Set, Miss Beauty Excellent Therapy Whitening Cream (two types), Pretty Model Whitening and Freckle Removing Set, Sara Glutathione Sheep Placenta Whitening and Anti-Spot Cream and S'Zitang Cream.
The products were purchased from a variety of retail outlets such as Chinese drug stores, cosmetics shops, herbal health and beauty stalls and “tiangge” booths.
According to the FDA, the importation, selling, or offering for sale of the recalled products containing high levels of mercury is a violation of Republic Act 9711, or the Food and Drug Administration Act of 2009.
The EcoWaste Coalition has e-mailed a copy of test buys report to FDA Director Lazo. Copies of the report will be sent next week to concerned mayors of the cities where the recalled items were bought with a request for swift law enforcement action.