Wednesday, February 23, 2011

'Mercury-laden skin whiteners still being sold in Manila'

Toxic watchdog EcoWaste Coalition is calling for a ban on mercury-laden cosmetics as the group revealed it found recalled dangerous products still being sold in the market earlier this month.

“Despite repeated warnings from government regulators and threats of legal action, we still find the recalled dangerous products in the market,” said Aileen Lucero, safe cosmetics campaigner of the EcoWaste Coalition.

The group conducted test buys from February 1 to 10 this year and succeeded in buying 13 of the 28 skin-whitening products blacklisted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for containing elevated levels of mercury.

These include the following products:

* Jiaoli Miraculous Cream
* Jiaoli Huichusu Cream
* Jiaoli 7-Days Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set
* Jiaoli 10-Days Eliminating Freckle Day and Night Set
* Doctor Bai Intensive White Revitalizing and Speckle Removing Set
* Gemli Glutathione Hydrolyzed Collagen Whitening and Anti-Aging Cream
* JJJ Magic Spots Removing Cream
* Shengli Day and Night Cream, S’Zitang Cream
* Beauty Girl Aloe Pearl
* Beauty Girl Ginseng and Green Cucumber
* Beauty Girl Olive and Sheep Essence
* St. Dalfour Beauty Whitening Cream

The shops selling the items, the group said in a statement, were in tiangge stalls, health supplement shops in malls, and in Chinese drug stores in Caloocan, Las Piñas, Makati, Malabon, Mandaluyong, Manila, Pasay, Quezon City, Valenzuela, and in Angono, Rizal.

“Most shops that we went to sell the banned items openly, giving official or informal receipts upon request. Others sell them under-the-counter, refusing to provide any proof of purchase,” Lucero said.

“The results of our test buys should provoke the health and police authorities to take stern action to close down the illicit trade that constitutes direct threat to public welfare,” Lucero added.

The group conducted the test buys before Valentine's Day, where they gathered at Plaza Santa Cruz in Manila and held a banner that said "Mercury-Added Cosmetics: Injurious to Health."

They also unveiled "Valentoxic", a Medusa-like villain with "snakes" in her hair taking the form of FDA-banned small bottles of skin whitening creams.

Valentoxic went around Chinese drug stores from Plaza Santa Cruz to Plaza Miranda and gave shop owners copies of the FDA directives about the recall of certain skin whitening products.

"Filipino consumers deserve nothing less than safe and truthfully labeled products that are free of mercury and other harmful ingredients," Lucero said.

Use of products with high levels of mercury may result in mercury toxicity with symptoms such as nervousness, irritability, difficulty with concentration, headache, tremors, memory loss, depression, insomnia, weight loss, fatigue, and numbness or tingling in hands, feet, or around the lips.


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