The government body has uncovered 13 brands of lipstick, including copies of L’Oreal products and Chinese lipstick lines, which contained levels of lead and other toxic substances over ASEAN limits.
Contaminated brands discovered are believed to originate from China, which has a history of supplying counterfeit cosmetics for the Philippine market.
In a statement, the FDA warned consumers: “Health problems through chronic ingestion of high level of lead in lipsticks may manifest as neurologic, hematologic, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and renal problems.”
“Children are particularly at risk from neurotoxic effects of lead, which affect their brain development and cognition, like test scores, memory and learning, and fine motor skills and behavior.”
“Lead easily crosses the placenta, and pregnant women should pay particular attention to the different sources of lead exposure.”
Risky cosmetics in the Philippines
Over the past year the FDA has issued several warnings to consumers not to purchase any unauthorized brands, with a list of safe products being provided on its website.
In a statement, the FDA called for greater assistance from the Bureau of Customs in containing unauthorized products, saying: “The FDA requests the Bureau of Customs remains vigilant in ensuring that these products are not released in the market without proper authorization from the FDA, as per requirement of FDA Memorandum Circular 2013-03.”
Ineffectiveness at the Philippine Bureau of Customs has frequently been pointed to as allowing contraband to enter the country.
President Benigno Aquino condemned the department in his 2013 address to the nation, and Commissioner of Customs offering his resignation this year for failing to deal with the department’s “deeply rooted” culture of corruption.
The initial trigger for the investigation was a report by environmental lobbying group the EcoWaste Coalition, which swept Philippine markets for contaminated products in August 2013.
The organization released the following statement: “We commend the FDA for acting on the results of the probe we conducted in August 2013 showing the 13 lipsticks contaminated with excessive levels of arsenic, lead and mercury.”
“As we have only scratched the surface, we request the FDA to conduct a more representative sampling of lipsticks on sale in the national market. The expanded survey of lipsticks should cover a broad range of brands, colors, prices and manufacturers.”