Groups Push for Intensified Government Monitoring of Fake and Toxic Cosmetics

Two non-profit groups dedicated to protecting the consumer interest have called upon the country’s health and police authorities to intensify the drive against dangerous cosmetics flooding the market.

Laban Konsyumer, Inc. (a consumer protection group) and the EcoWaste Coalition (an environmental health group) have asked both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to step up the campaign versus counterfeit and unregistered cosmetics that are often sold at rock-bottom prices in Divisoria, Manila and other bargain hubs, as well as in online shopping sites.

The groups pressed for increased FDA-PNP law enforcement operations to disrupt and eventually halt the illegal trade of dangerous cosmetics following the recent discovery by the EcoWaste Coalition of excessive levels of heavy metal impurities such as arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury in cheap but unsafe lipsticks.

Last Sunday, the EcoWaste Coalition revealed the presence of lead up to 42,900 parts per million (ppm) in 48 out of 57 lipstick samples procured for P14.50 to P35 each from Divisoria retailers.  The maximum allowable limit for lead, a potent neurotoxin, is 20 ppm under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive. 

“Combined FDA-PNP operations are essential to combat the threat from fake and toxic cosmetics in the marketplace.  Their intensified market surveillance targeting unscrupulous manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers will protect consumers from being harmed by products containing banned or restricted substances, as well as bacterial contaminants, that can put their health at risk,” said Atty. Vic Dimagiba, President, Laban Konsyumer, Inc.

“We request the FDA and the PNP to further mobilize their respective machineries to rid the market of personal care and cosmetic products that are not compliant with the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive, particularly those containing heavy metals above the trace amount limits set.  The sale of poison lipsticks loaded with lead or skin whitening creams laced with mercury must stop to protect consumer health and the environment, too,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

The FDA and the PNP in 2016 signed a Memorandum of Agreement deputizing the PNP to help the FDA in ensuring the quality, safety and efficacy of food, health products, cosmetics, medicines and medical devices being offered for sale in the market.

The PNP has organized the Task Force Destroy Products Unfit for the Consumption of Humans, or Task Force D-PUNCH, to assist the FDA in the performance of its function.

“We hope that the health and customs authorities will also come up with a collaborative agreement to enhance law enforcement action that will stop the entry of contraband cosmetics into our ports,” the groups said.