FDA advisory warns consumers on “toxic” unlicensed products

By Chris BARKER

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cosmetics, Philippines

FDA advisory warns consumers on “toxic” unlicensed products
New FDA Advisory No.2013-21 warns consumers not to purchase unlicensed cosmetics products in the Philippines, calling them“toxic and hazardous to health.”

The report highlights the facts that many products imported without an FDA license have previously been found to contain dangerous heavy metals and chemicals.

The advisory also emphasizes the particular danger of buying from unlicensed and illegitimate outlets, including ambulant and sidewalk vendors. Items purchased from these outlets are described as“hazardous.”

Ms Gutierrez, a spokesperson from the FDA Centre for Cosmetics, said that the agency had discovered roughly 50 mercury containing products this year.

Dangerous products

The agency advises all consumers to check that the product is on the FDA’s online database of approved items before purchasing.

“Based on the long list of cosmetic products that are already banned by the FDA,it can be concluded that all cosmetic products which that are imported, manufactured or distributed by unlicensed cosmetic establishments are toxic and hazardous to health.” 

The communique stresses that cosmetics products are health products and should not be purchased lightly. Contact details are also provided for consumers to report adverse side effects.

The China syndrome

Gutierrez said:“In my opinion, such violating products are either smuggled or bought online, which should be strictly controlled upon entering the country.”

“Almost all the products that were tested containing more than the ASEAN standard content of heavy metals like Mercury are imported products.”

Large numbers of the dangerous products have been found to have been imported from China or other parts of Asia. Many of the contaminated items are skin whiteners, which use mercury to inhibit the production of melanin and make the customer appear paler.

Gutierrez attributed the high levels of dangerous heavy metals in these products to a combination of poor manufacturing procedures, ignorance of the law and deliberate adulteration.

The mercury cosmetics onslaught

Since the beginning of 2013, environmental group the EcoWaste Coalition has recorded the discovery nearly of 150 mercury contaminated products on sale in the Philippines on their blog.

Many of the items discovered by the group had already been banned by the FDA. This June, while Reporting on a batch of 15 mercury-containing cosmetics discovered in Quezon City, the group urged the FDA to perform tighter post-market monitoring.  

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