‘Beware of 11 skin creams from China’
The Department of Health (DOH-7) reminded consumers anew to choose registered cosmetic products in the market.
The warning came after the EcoWaste Coalition, a private watchdog group, tested several China-made skin whitening creams sold in Metro Manila retail stores and supermarkets and found 11 products with a high level of mercury content.
Some of the face creams which they tested reached up to 28,600 parts per million (ppm) of the heavy metal.
The limit set by the Food and Drug Authority for mercury levels in cosmetics is 1ppm.
Mercury is poisonous when absorbed by human beings and can harm the nervous system and vital organs.
Cebu Daily News visited one “herbal” store in Cebu City to ask for products on the list posted by the EcoWaste Coalition.
Sales attendants in the store said three of them were among their fast-selling products and cost P350 to P700 each.
They said the products were out of stock, though, since they sold out quickly as soon as they reached the store. They were identified as Jiaoli 7-Day Speicifc Eliminating Freckle AB Set Cream, Jiaoli Miraculous Cream and Beatuy Girl Natural Olive and Sheep Essence 10-day Double Whitening Cream. (See complete list of 12 products tested by the Ecowaste Coalition on page 2)
“The buying public should check the Cosmetic Registration number of the products to assure that it is safe for use,” Elizabeth Tabasa, DOH-7 Licensing, Standards and Regulation Chief.
The brands identified by the private watchdog group are not contained in an advisory of the Bureau of Food and Drugs.
Tabasa said she has not yet received any notification from their central office warning about these cosmetics.
But she encouraged the use of locally made whitening products or imported products with the BFAD registration number.
Many unregistered cosmetics from China can still be found in the market. Consumers have to exercise vigilance in choosing what to buy, including inspecting goods for the BFAD seal of approval.
Exposure to high mercury level can cause skin rashes, brain damage, hearing impairment, eye irritation, diarrhea and increase in blood pressure, said the DOH.
Cebu Daily News checked major pharmacies and retail stores like Watsons, Mercury Drug and Rose Pharmacy near Fuente Osmeña in Cebu City but none of the 12 products listed as having high mercury level were sold there.
Quality control is tighter in big name retail outlets and malls.
The EcoWaste coalition said they already notified Dr. Suzette Lazo, Director of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about their findings.
“We are shocked to find high levels of mercury in the cosmetics we tested that ranged from 1,085 to 28,600 ppm, in brazen breach of the country’s regulatory limit,” said Aileen Lucero, Safe Cosmetics campaigner of EcoWaste Coalition on their statement.
Visiting Chicago-based scientist Dr. Joe DiGangi tested the skin whitening products using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device, a chemical analyzer widely used by private companies and regulatory agencies in US.
The samples were purchased last July 23, from two Chinese drug stores, one cosmetics shop and two sidewalk vendors all located in Quiapo, Manila.
“Mercury is poison that should not be present in consumer products.
“Mercury harms the nervous system, the kidneys, and other organ systems,” DiGangi warned.
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