The Bali National Drug and Food Monitoring Agency (BPOM) is warning consumers to be more cautious when buying cosmetics after finding in a recent operation, a large number of illegal traditional beauty products.
Targeting distributors and stores in Denpasar, Tabanan and Gianyar, enforcement officials are said to have seized 39,000 packages of 238 kinds of traditional cosmetics and medicines over a two-day operation.
According to the Agency’s Corry Panjaitan, officials confiscated products that were either unregistered, had fake distribution licenses, or contained dangerous chemical substances.
“We also arrested three suspects during the operation,” she added.
Whilst samples of the seized products have been sent to labs to establish whether they contained dangerous chemical substances, the team’s representative says that they have yet to determine the parties responsible for producing the illegal products.
“We currently have no knowledge as to whether the illegal beauty products were produced in Indonesia or abroad,” she explains.
Not the first of their kind…
According to the monitoring body, illegal cosmetics are widely distributed and still easily available in Bali and their inexpensive prices and availability make them desirable to some consumers.
In the last year alone, Corry says the Agency has prosecuted eight people for allegedly selling illegal products to the public.
“Unfortunately, the court only punished them with light sentences, including probationary sentences ranging from two to three months,” added the agency’s investigation head, Gusti Ayu Adhy Aryapatni.
Gusti Ayu goes on to explain that, in Indonesia, the defendant does not have to serve any prison time when receiving a probationary sentence.
"All that is necessary is to refrain from repeating the crime that resulted in the sentencing for the length of the probationary period, and the light sentence would be no deterrent on these people."
Global crack down on illegal cosmetics
Meanwhile across the water, UK based cosmetics retailer ‘Sabina Hair and Cosmetics’ was recently fined £24,000 (€29,000) after being caught selling illegal skin whitening creams containing a banned substance, hydroquinone, which is linked to cancer.
Found during a raid by the Trading Standards, all the products were being sold from below the counter, an indication that the company was aware of the illegal implications of the sales.
Targeting the large ethnic population in the UK, the shopkeeper was said to be selling over 200 banned products which contained ingredients that have been known to irreversibly damage health when used in excessive quantities.