Environmental watchdog, the EcoWaste Coalition is putting pressure on the Philippines Food and Drug Administration after it discovered first hand that cosmetics containing mercury were still available over the counter, despite being banned in the region.
Out of the 50 brands of skin whitening creams that the FDA has so far banned for containing excessive levels of mercury across the board, the Coalition reveals it has still managed to buy over a dozen in several test buys conducted in the last year.
“In test buys conducted last month, we were able to buy two banned imported beauty brands in stalls just ‘a stone’s throw away’ from the FDA,” it said in a statement.
A call for tighter regulation..
In particular, skin-whitening Jiaoli Miraculous Cream and S’Zitang 10-Day Eliminating Freckle Day and Night Set both recalled by the FDA in 2010, were reported as having a high mercury content ranging from 3,660 ppm up to 23,100 ppm when subjected to chemical analysis.
“The FDA, with support from the city and mall management, should waste no time in deploying field inspectors to confiscate the recalled products and apprehend the violators,” says the Coalition’s Aileen Lucero.
“Unlike other contraband goods which are usually sold under-the-counter, mercury-laden cosmetics are openly offered for sale, making a mockery of FDA’s recall orders aimed at safeguarding consumer health and safety,” she added.
According to the FDA, any skin lightening, anti-aging or other skin product containing the words 'mercurous chloride,' 'calomel,' 'mercuric,' 'mercurio,' or 'mercury,' on its list of ingredients is illegal.
As a result of its findings, EcoWaste sent a letter to new FDA chief, Dr. Kenneth Hartigan-Go, highlighting the continued sale of cosmetics containing mercury, while proposing that the FDA either initiate or back a 'Brown is Beautiful' campaign that will promote acceptance and pride in natural skin tone.
“As a toxics watchdog, we take it as our duty to provide your office with some insights and suggestions as to how the FDA can reinforce its ongoing work to curb, if not eradicate, the unlawful sale of skin whitening creams containing dangerous amounts of mercury,” stated the letter.
The letter has also been signed by twenty environment and health advocates, including film actor Roy Alvarez, Miss Earth Philippines titlist Cathy Untalan.