The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental watch group, urged the health and police authorities to go after the importers, distributors and vendors of unauthorized wet wipes for cleaning baby’s face, nose, hands and bottom whose quality and safety cannot be assured.
“The proliferation of cheap cleansing wipes of questionable quality and safety could spell trouble for babies as the use of these products may cause skin allergies and irritation,” stated Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.
“The authorities should come down hard on violators as their non-compliance may put the health of babies at risk to by exposing their very sensitive skin to harmful substances that are restricted or banned,” he said.
“The police force should team up with the FDA to stop the proliferation of these unregistered products and to curb the health hazards posed by such products to babies,” he added.
The group’s plea for law enforcement action came after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released successive public health warnings against baby wipes being sold in the market without the mandatory product notifications.
The FDA warned that “the use of such violative products may pose potential health hazards to the consuming public” as these “have not gone through the verification process” and that the “agency cannot guarantee their quality and safety.”
To check on the extent of the problem, the EcoWaste Coalition surveyed from April 28 to May 1 discount stores specializing in “made in China” products, took photos and bought samples of unnotified baby wipes being sold. The stores are located in Caloocan, Makati, Manila, Parañaque, Pasay and Quezon Cities in Metro Manila, Imus City in Cavite and Santa Rosa City in Laguna
The group managed to buy 40 brands of unauthorized baby wipe products, sold for P8 to P75 each, in violation of Republic Act No. 9711, or the Food and Drug Administration Act.
RA 9711, among other things, prohibits the manufacture, importation, exportation, sale, offering for sale, distribution, transfer, non-consumer use, promotion, advertising or sponsorship of health products without the proper authorization from the FDA.
Of the 40 products, 2 contain isobutyl paraben, which the FDA has declared as a banned ingredient in cosmetics in line with the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive (ACD).
Three products contain iodopropynyl butylcarbamate (IPBC), which is prohibited in products intended for children under three years old as per the ACD.
Both isobutyl paraben and IPBC, according to the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, are a “human skin toxicant or allergen” with “strong evidence.” In addition, isobutyl paraben is considered a “human endocrine disruptor.”
Four products also lack a list of ingredients on the label, which is in violation of both RA 9711 and RA 7394, or the Consumer Act of the Philippines.
The EcoWaste Coalition further pointed out that the improper disposal of wet wipes may be contributing to environmental pollution.”
“Carelessly thrown wipes may clog up sewerage systems and end up in canals and rivers and finally into the oceans where wipes can harm marine life,” the group said.