Overseas Filipinos Warned against Trading Cosmetics with Mercury and Hydroquinone

Confiscated illegally sold cosmetics and other regulated products,  (Photo courtesy of Devon City Council)

A local environmental health organization reminded Filipinos living or working overseas not to engage in the illegal trade of cosmetics containing hazardous substances such as mercury and hydroquinone, or suffer the dire consequences.

The EcoWaste Coalition issued the timely reminder after online trader Merarie Day, age 48,  mother of three and originally from the Philippines, was ordered last week by a British court to pay £31,200 within three months or spend time in prison for 18 months.

"Filipinos abroad must not engage in the illicit trade of cosmetics and other regulated products that are not compliant with national and regional safety regulations. In Europe, for example, traders of skin whitening creams containing hydroquinone or mercury are determinedly prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” warned Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition

According to the Devon Trading Standards, Day used her eBay account and her own website to sell products imported from the Philippines, including skin lightening cosmetics containing hydroquinone, which can damage the liver and the nervous system, and mercury, which can damage the kidneys as well as cause skin discoloration, rashes and scarring.

Despite repeated advice by the Devon Trading Standards from 2014-2016, Day reportedly continued to import and sell cosmetic products containing the banned substances, as well as herbal supplements that made false claims about their health benefits. 

A raid at her home in Milizac Close, Yealmpton yielded 600 items, including JJJ Golden Spot Removing Cream, which was found to be contaminated with mercury.

In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the Philippines banned a similar product called JJJ Magic Spots Removing Cream (Golden Package) due to its excessive mercury content.

According to UK media reports, Day in 2016 had pleaded guilty to 14 offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008; the Cosmetic Product Enforcement Regulations 2013 and the Nutrition and Health Claims (England) Regulations 2007.

It was also reported that Day pleaded guilty to money laundering charges under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 with most of the money being remitted to the Philippines.

“At best these products would have left consumers out of pocket and at worst they were dangerous and could have seriously harmed their health. If you think you have some of these products you should stop using them immediately," said Stephen Gardiner, Interventions Manager, Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards. 

“By selling these products she put personal profit over the health and wellbeing of her customers. The fact that she has to pay back her illegal earnings or go to jail sends a clear message that we will not tolerate this kind of criminal activity,” he said.






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