Procter and Gamble to resume sale of SK-II cosmetics in China
after China authorities confirmed that levels of toxic heavy metals
found in the formulation were harmless, a state press report says.
The SK-II is one of the country's leading premium skin care range, but discrepancies came to the fore over levels of the heavy metals chromium and neodymium after it was tested by watchdog authorities in Guangzhou and Hong Kong nearly two months ago.
After news filtered through to the China press about the possible dangers, consumer panic ensued leading to demonstrations at the company's retail outlets in Shanghai as they grew increasingly frustrated over the company's handling of the situation.
But, following countless denials that its consumers were not in any danger, it now seems that Chinese authorities are now in agreement with company officials. In a joint statement between the Ministry of Health and the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, the report confirmed that the product line posed no danger to human health.
A P&G spokesperson in China has confirmed that the product line would start to re-appear on retail shelves, but declined to give any specific time-frame.
The latest statement by the China authorities comes three weeks after South Korean authorities said that they had found traces of heavy metal in the Japanese-made formulations, but that the levels were 'too little to worry about'.
At the time, P&G said that the findings by the Korean authorities confirmed the company's claims that the SK-II line was safe.
Subsequent testing was carried out both by watchdog authorities in Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea and by P&G in all the markets where the product line is sold in Asia. Evidently no test revealed that the formulations proved any threat to human health.
The SK-II line features premium sunscreens, skin whitening and general skin care products, has been available for twenty years and is sold in 14 countries worldwide, including the US, China, Singapore, South Korea and Australia.
P&G will undoubtedly be relieved to know that SK-II will be back on the shelves relatively soon in China, but the damage to the brand will undoubtedly take longer to put right.
After the initial findings by the Chinese authorities were vehemently denied, many industry experts believe that the company could have handled the situation better, spending more time and resources trying to reassure consumers over the scare, rather than just denying it.
Ultimately the past few months will be a lesson in how the industry should handle consumer scares in the region.