FDA Urged to Go After Baclaran Traders of Mercury-Tainted Cosmetics

A toxics watchdog has asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to go on full-offensive against vendors of cosmetics containing mercury, an extremely harmful chemical.

“It’s high time for unscrupulous traders to face the strong arm of the law for selling hazardous products laced with mercury,” said Manny Calonzo, EcoWaste Coalition’s OIC.

“Unless and until the FDA has shown it means business in combating this illegal trade, the sale of these dangerous products will not cease,” he added.

In a letter e-mailed yesterday to FDA OIC-Director Atty. Nicolas B. Lutero III, the EcoWaste Coalition told the agency about the uncontrolled sale of banned skin whitening products at the Baclaran Terminal Plaza in Pasay City.

An ocular investigation conducted by the group’s AlerToxic Patrol on June 30 showed that at least five of the 50 brands of skin whitening creams banned under the FDA Advisory 2011-012 were openly sold at the said mall.

The FDA advisory banned the 50 products for containing mercury above the allowable limit of one part per million and without the benefit of notification with the agency.

These five proscribed products include 1) Jiaoli Miraculous Cream,2) Jiaoli 7-Days Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set, 3) Miss Beauty Excellent Therapy Whitening Cream (gold, blue and purple color), 4) Miss Beauty Excellent Therapy Whitening Cream (gold, brown and old rose color), and 5) S’Zitang.

Photos taken by the group showed the banned products on display in cosmetics shops located at store number SF-48, D 02-04, C 38-43, C 47 and K 9 of the Baclaran Terminal Plaza.

In view of its findings, the EcoWaste Coalition requested the FDA to:

1. Send a team of inspectors to confiscate the banned products that are being sold in the area, issue on-the-spot notice of violation against shops caught in flagrante delicto and, if possible, immediately impose a temporary closure order.

2. Meet and forge an agreement with the management of the Baclaran Terminal Plaza that will encourage them to cooperate with the FDA, particularly in the enforcement of prohibitions against the manufacturing, importation, distribution and sale of cosmetics containing excessive amounts of mercury in their premises, as well as hold them responsible, together with non-compliant shops, for any violation of FDA-issued ban or recall orders

According to the World Health Organization (WHO),the main adverse effect of the inorganic mercury contained in skin lightening soaps and creams is kidney damage.

Mercury in skin lightening products, the WHO said, may also cause skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, as well as a reduction in the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections.

Mercury in soaps, creams and other cosmetic products is eventually discharged into wastewater. The mercury then enters the environment, where it becomes methylated and enters the food-chain as the highly toxic methylmercury in fish, the WHO explained.

WHO has warned that pregnant women who consume fish containing methylmercury transfer the mercury to their fetuses, which can later result in neurodevelopmental deficits in the children.