Statement: FDA Lauded for Taking Public Health Action vs. Dangerous Cosmetics

Fifteen of the 16 unauthorized beauty products recently recalled by the FDA (not included is “Zyiang Day Cream”).
The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental and health watchdog working towards a zero waste and toxics-free society, applauds the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) for its latest public health action banning the following 16 unauthorized skin whitening cosmetics that pose imminent danger or injury to consumers. 

1. Baiyansu Three-in-One Whitening Set;
2. Beauty Girl Green Cucumber 6 Days Double Whitening Soft Essence Cream;
3. Bihuayn Whitening Day Cream;
4. Care Skin Strong Whitening and Spot Removing Package;
5. Gakadi Freckle Removing Cream;
6. Hengxueqian Whitening Set;
7. Huayuenong 12 Days Whitening and Speckle Removing Wrecking Set;
8. White Advance Hydroxytyrosol L-Glutathione Whitening and Anti-Aging Cream;
9. Yudantang Ginseng and Green Cucumber 10 Days Whitening Speckles Removed Essence;
10. Yudantang Green Olive and Papaya Natural Essence 6 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Sun Block Cream;
11. Yudantang Sea Pearl and Papaya 6 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Cream;
12. Yudantang Sheep Essence and Green Cucumber and Ginseng 10 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle Spot and Double Whitening Sun Block Cream;
13. Yudantang 10 Days Whitening Speckles Removed Essence (with picture of cow and papaya);
14. Zyiang Day Cream;
15. Whitening Cream, with the rest of the label in Chinese characters); and
16. Label in Chinese characters, gold package with picture of red flower with three green leaves.

Chemical analyses conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition this year on samples of the 16 banned products showed outrageous levels of mercury reaching up to 63,800 parts per million (ppm) in blatant violation of the permissible limit of one ppm under the ASEAN Cosmetics Directive.  Mercury, a potent poison that can permanently damage or injure the brain, kidneys and the skin, should not be present in consumer products such as cosmetics that are directly applied onto the skin.

To date, the FDA has since 2010 banned a total of 93 skin whitening cosmetics, mostly coming from mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.  To our knowledge, the Philippines ranks number one among importing countries that have recalled the most number of mercury-laden cosmetics to protect the public health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury in such products.

Among these 93 banned skin whitening cosmetics were 42 products that the EcoWaste Coalition procured from Chinese drug stores and herbal and beauty product stalls during its test buys in Metro Manila, Cebu City and Davao City, screened for mercury using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analytical device, and subsequently disclosed to the public through the mass media to alert both the authorities and the consumers.

While commending the FDA for their action, particularly the Office of the FDA Director Kenneth Hartigan-Go and the Center for Cosmetic Regulation and Research, we appeal to other governmental agencies to weigh in on the ongoing drive to bring the unlawful trade in dangerous cosmetics containing mercury and other harmful substances to a close.

In particular, we request the Bureau of Customs to stop the unrelenting entry of such contraband goods into our country’s ports, and the Department of Interior and Local Government to mobilize local authorities,  specifically the Mayors and Chiefs of Police of LGUs in Metro Manila and other highly urbanized areas, to effectively enforce the FDA recall orders.

We ask cosmetics manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers to abide by the requirements of R.A. 9711, the Food and Drug Administration Act and R.A. 7394, the Consumer Act of the Philippines, and ensure that only duly authorized and labelled non-toxic cosmetics and personal care products are offered for sale to Filipino consumers.  

In line with its goal of promoting the consumer right to information on chemicals in processes, products and wastes, especially the right of children, women and other vulnerable groups to be protected against toxic chemical trespass and harm, we reiterate our commitment to work with the FDA and other stakeholders in the public and private sectors in achieving chemical safety for all.

Aileen Lucero
Acting National Coordinator
EcoWaste Coalition
21 July 2013