22 November 2018, Bali, Indonesia/Quezon City, Philippines. Two environmental health organizations have alerted consumers against buying a mercury-laden skin whitening product allegedly made in the Philippines and sold at popular online shopping sites in Indonesia.
Through a joint press statement, Balifokus (based in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia) and the EcoWaste Coalition (based in Quezon City, Philippines) warned that “RDL Whitening Treatment Day and Night Cream” sold at www.bukalapak.com and www.tokopedia.com contains mercury above the 1 part per million (ppm) limit under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive.
“This is hazardous to health because it contains mercury as a skin lightening substance. Bukalapak and Tokopedia should take down all ads for this dangerous product at once to protect consumers from being duped and harmed. The National Agency of Drug and Food Control (BPOM) should ban this product from being sold in Indonesia,” said Krishna Bayumutri Zaki, Toxics Program Manager, Balifokus.
“Considering the lack of enforcement in Indonesia of regulations banning the online sale of dangerous or illegal products, Bukalapak, Tokopedia and other e-commerce platforms should conduct a strict filtering of such products being sold by third-party sellers to safeguard online shoppers,” he added.
“We have duly alerted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about the online sale of this product in Indonesia that is purportedly made in Davao City. Our health and customs authorities should act decisively to stop the proliferation of this product that poses mercury exposure risk, especially to Indonesian women,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
Mercury was detected on the two samples of “RDL Whitening Treatment Day and Night Cream” bought online by Balifokus and subsequently analyzed by the EcoWaste Coalition using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device. The night cream, in particular, was found to contain 3,149 ppm and 3,615 ppm of mercury, way above the 1 ppm threshold limit.
According to the World Health Organization, “the main adverse effect of the inorganic mercury contained in skin lightening soaps and creams is kidney damage.” WHO has warned that “mercury in skin lightening products may also cause skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, as well as a reduction in the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections.”
As written on the product label, “RDL Whitening Treatment Day and Night Cream” is manufactured in Davao City, Philippines by “RDL Cosmetic Laboratory, Inc..”
“RDL Cosmetic Laboratory, Inc.” is not to be confused with “RDL Pharmaceutical Laboratory, Inc.,” a legitimate company that has valid notifications for a number of cosmetic products sold in the market as confirmed by the FDA.
The FDA Center for Cosmetics Regulation and Research (CCRR) has told the EcoWaste Coalition that the product in question has no existing or valid product notification, nor a pending application for notification with the FDA.