CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — An environmental group has expressed alarm over the unabated sale of beauty products reported to be laced with a toxic element.
The EcoWaste Coalition said that in spite of a public health warning issued by the government almost five years ago, local dealers of mercury-containing beauty creams from South Asia continue to ply their poison cosmetics.
“Despite the explicit threats of regulatory actions and sanctions, beauty product stores and online vendors continue to sell with impunity the ‘made in Pakistan’ Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene and Goree Day & Night Beauty Cream,” said Aileen Lucero, national coordinator of the group EcoWaste Coalition, in a statement.
Lucero noted that these products are sold for as low as Php 180 to as high as Php 350 per box.
As verified through recent test buy operations conducted by EcoWaste Coalition in 26 cities and municipalities, the importation, distribution, and sale of the said Goree facial creams persist, posing a threat to public health and the environment due to their dangerously high mercury content.
Based on the screening performed by the group using an Olympus Vanta M Series X-Ray Fluorescence device, the analyzed Goree products have elevated levels of mercury, measuring as high as 30,680 parts per million (ppm).
“The maximum limit for mercury in cosmetics as per the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive and the Minimata Convention on Mercury is 1 ppm,” the group said.
This prompted the EcoWaste Coalition to alert the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and push for the strict enforcement of a directive it issued in October 2017 against Goree products.
To recall, FDA through Advisory No. 2017-289 warned the public against the purchase and use of the said Goree products, which were determined by the FDA to contain mercury above 1 ppm.
In a letter sent on May 25 to the FDA Center for Cosmetics and Household/Urban Hazardous Substances Regulation and Research, the EcoWaste Coalition put forward the following measures to remove mercury-laden Goree products from commerce:
1. Reiterate through a new advisory the ban on mercury-containing Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene and Goree Day & Night Beauty Cream, including the risks associated with mercury exposure, especially for women of childbearing age, and the consequences of continued use;
2. Request the FDA’s regional enforcement units to join forces with local government units in the conduct of law enforcement activities, including the confiscation and environmentally sound storage and disposal of Goree and other violative cosmetics;
3. Seek the cooperation of shopping mall administrators to ensure that stores and stalls operating within their premises do not offer for sale Goree products and other unauthorized cosmetics;
4. Establish the legal responsibility of the management of online shopping sites in relation to the use of their platforms for the promotion and sale of Goree and other unlawful cosmetics lacking the required Certificate of Product Notification; and
5. Support the advocacy “natural is beautiful” as the safest protection against skin lightening cosmetics that may contain mercury and other hazardous substances.
The EcoWaste Coalition in September 2021 reported to the FDA the proliferation of over 280 product ads for Goree and other FDA-flagged mercury-containing skin whitening cosmetics in major online shopping platforms.
To date, these non-compliant cosmetics remain easily available for digital shoppers, the group lamented.
“Vigilant enforcement of the Minamata Convention is needed to break the illicit trade of mercury-added cosmetics and safeguard the health of consumers and that of their families,” the group said. (davaotoday.com)