FDA Bans 6 More Mercury-Laden Skin Whitening Creams, Watchdog Urges Stern Legal Action vs Vendors of "Cosmetoxics"

“It’s better to be brown than sorry.”

Thus declared the EcoWaste Coalition, a toxics watchdog, as it welcomed the move by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to blacklist six more imported skin whitening creams laced with excessive amounts of mercury, an extremely dangerous chemical.

Through DOH-FDA Advisory 2012-018-A issued on March 14, the regulatory agency expanded the list of banned mercury-containing skin whitening products from 71 in November 2012 to the current 77.  Added to the list were:

1. Fruit & Lovely Quickacting Whitener & Speckle Remover Package
2. Yudantang Green Olive and Papaya Natural Essence 6 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Sun Block Cream
3. Spring Return Ginseng and Pearl Natural Pure Plants Whitening Cream
4. Natural Orange Whitening and Anti-Aging Package
5. TVC Spot Remover
6. Yoko Whitening Cream with SPF-15

All the above products, except for Yoko, have not undergone the required FDA’s notification procedures.

“As we laud the FDA’s action to ban additional skin lightening products tainted with mercury, we urge consumers to be on their guard and take highest precautions against 'cosmetoxics' or cosmetics laced with hazardous substances,” said Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“Our distinct kayumangging-kaligatan (light brown skin) complexion is beautiful and a source of national pride. But if you still insist on lightening your skin tone, please be very careful with cosmetics laden with mercury and other equally harmful chemicals. It’s better to be brown than sorry,” Lucero said.

FDA Director Kenneth Hartigan-Go had earlier warned that “chronic use reduces the skin’s normal resistance against bacterial and fungal infections,” and that “the transfer of mercury to fetuses of pregnant women may manifest as neurodevelopment deficits later in life.”

The EcoWaste Coalition in December 2012 alerted the FDA about the illegal sale of five of the six products, which the group analyzed using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer and found positive for mercury up to 26,700 parts per million, way above the government’s allowable limit of 1 part per million (ppm).

In February 2013, the EcoWaste Coalition submitted to the FDA additional mercury-containing skin whitening products that the group obtained from test buys at Chinese drug stores in Binondo, Manila for confirmatory analysis.

Consumer products such as mercury-laced skin whitening cosmetics are among the identified sources of mercury, and mercury in such products can also enter and contaminate the waste stream.

“As we seek for safer cosmetics that will not harm users as well as pollute the environment, we urge the national and local authorities to take tough legal action against importers, distributors and sellers of these unlawful products,” said environmental lawyer Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos, a member of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Steering Committee.

“By punishing these vendors of contraband cosmetics to the fullest extent of the law, we send a clear message to the cosmetics industry and the public that our country truly means business when it comes to protecting our people, especially our women and children, and our planet, from further mercury exposure,” she said.

Under R.A. 9711, the FDA Act of 2009, individual violators shall be penalized with imprisonment from one to 10 years or a fine from P50,000 to P500,000, or both. For violators who are manufacturers, importers or distributors, the imprisonment of 5 to 10 years and the fine of P500,000 to P5,000,000 shall apply.

The EcoWaste  Coalition also highlighted the need for the cosmetics industry to institute chemical safety reforms such as:

1. Manufacturing only toxic-free goods sans heavy metals and other harmful substances.
2. Replacing other chemicals of concern with non-hazardous substitutes.
3. Disclosing all chemical ingredients with corresponding net quantity of contents, including additives and impurities, on the product labels and online.
4. Providing hazard labeling for products containing ingredients linked to cancer and other major health issues.
5. Providing warning statements for a) latent complications with other ailments, and b) potential drug complications when used simultaneously with other drugs/cosmetics.

The EcoWaste Coalition is a national network of more than 150 public interest groups pursuing sustainable and just solutions to waste, climate change and chemical issues towards the envisioned Zero Waste 2020 goal.




Unknown said…
Thanks for sharing this informative post, but i would like to know that does this cream provides permanent lightening or for some few days. And are there any side effects of using this.

skin brightening cream
Unknown said…
hi so what are the procedures required by the fda for this products? do you mean testing for mercury content? if so what are the results of tests done with yoko products
Unknown said…
hi so what are the procedures required by the fda for this products? do you mean testing for mercury content? if so what are the results of tests done with yoko products