Jiaoli Skin Whitening Cosmetics Banned in Norway, US, Hong Kong and the Philippines, On Sale in Metro Manila

Jiaoli products bought in Metro Manila with receipts issued by retailers (above); Jiaoli product withdrawn from the Norwegian market as published in RAPEX (below) 

Beware: a mercury-laden
skin whitening product bearing the name of “Jiaoli” that Norway recently banned
is being offered for sale in Metro Manila despite being banned by the Philippines
as well.

The EcoWaste
Coalition aired this warning after being able to buy the facial cream in
question for P80 or P100 each last November 5 and 6 at beauty and health product shops and Chinese
drug stores in Guadalupe, Makati City; Starmall,
Mandaluyong City; Sta. Cruz, Manila City; Baclaran Terminal Plaza, Pasay City;
and Cubao, Quezon City.

Jiaoli was one
of the nine skin whitening products, mostly imported from China, that the
Scandinavian country withdrew from the market for containing mercury in the
range of 1,800 to 8,300 parts per million (ppm).

According to
Report 43 published on November 1, 2013 by the European Union’s rapid alert
system for non-food dangerous products or RAPEX, “the product poses a chemical
risk because it contains mercury (5,000 ppm) and does not comply with the
Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 on cosmetic products.”

The said Jiaoli
product that Norway recalled, which is not on the list of notified cosmetics of
the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), is contained in a blue box with white
Chinese letters and pictures of a woman before and
after using the cream.

Jiaoli-named products, including the one recalled in Norway, were among the 93
skin whitening cosmetics banned by FDA from 2010-2013 for exceeding the 1 ppm
limit for mercury under the ASEAN Cosmetics

Internet search
by the EcoWaste Coalition showed that the same Jiaoli was also banned by the
Hong Kong Department of Health in 2009 and by the Minnesota Department of
Health in 2011 for containing dangerous levels of mercury.

“We are alarmed
that Jiaoli seems to be enjoying brisk sales despite being recalled by various
health agencies for having mercury at levels considered illegal even in China
where the product originated,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator,
EcoWaste Coalition.

As per the
“Hygienic Standards for Cosmetics” of the National Standard of the People’s
Republic of China, the tolerable limit for mercury in cosmetics is set at 1
ppm, which is similar to the limit set by the ASEAN Cosmetics

“Based on our
nonstop market monitoring, Jiaoli as well as Erna, S’zitang and Yudantang skin
whitening products are the most available mercury-laden cosmetics being
illegally traded in Metro Manila and elsewhere,” she

“To keep Jiaoli
and other mercury-contaminated products out of commerce, a concerted action
involving health, trade, customs and police authorities and watchdog groups in
the Philippines and in countries where
these products are sourced is urgently needed,” Lucero pointed out.

The EcoWaste
Coalition also expressed serious concern about the emergence of three new
Jiaoli products in the market such as Jiaoli Herbs Essence Whitening AB Set,
Jiaoli Huichunsu Specific Eliminating Freckle Cream, and Jiaoli Speckle
Dispelling and Whitening Cream that had 10,800, 2,095 and 3,042 ppm of mercury,
respectively, based on the chemical analysis conducted by the group.  These three Jiaoli products are not yet
banned by the FDA.

According to a
flyer published by 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 may also cause skin rashes, skin discoloration and
scarring, as well as a reduction in the skin’s resistance to bacterial and
fungal infections (and further cause) anxiety, depression or psychosis and
peripheral neuropathy,” the WHO said.

WHO also warned
“that mercury in cosmetics is eventually discharged into wastewater, then
enters the environment, where it becomes methylated and enters the food-chain
as the highly toxic methylmercury in fish.”

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