Nudity sells unregistered cosmetics in Ghana

By Guy Montague-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Africa Cosmetics

Images deemed to be pornographic are being used to sell potentially
harmful cosmetics in Ghana, according to a recent public health
warning.

After discovering unregistered cosmetic products on the Ghanaian market, the Food and Drugs Board (FDB, has encouraged consumers to be vigilant and traders to be mindful of the law.

The FDB, which is responsible for overseeing the cosmetics market in Ghana, said the products were often labelled inappropriately.

"Some of these products have not been labelled in accordance with the national labelling rules- portraying obscene and pornographic scenes while others have no English language inscriptions to guide consumers," said E.K. Agyarko, CEO of the FDB.

It is doubtful whether what is considered pornographic or obscene in Ghana is similar to material that is described in the same way in Western Europe.

"Even in Ghana's large cities, a lady wearing a pair of shorts in public is considered immoral," said Dr Augustine Ankomah, from the University of Exeter.

"Any explicit display of erotic materials is highly unacceptable and magazines on erotica are not available," added the academic.

Detailing the dangers, the FDB warned consumers that suspect products could put lives at risk because some of them contain dangerous ingredients or unsafe amounts of certain chemicals.

The FDB issued a warning to those involved in their supply, giving them until August 31, 2007, to ensure that their products comply with the Food and Drugs Law.

A reminder of the illegality of failing to do so was also given.

The repercussions of non-compliance were not outlined in detail, although the FDB did say: "The Board will not deal kindly with anyone found flouting this directive."

Ghana is not the only African country fighting the distribution of potentially fatal beauty products.

Last month, the Tanzanian Health Ministry warned that life-threatening perfumes and facial creams containing male hormones were widely available in the East African country.

Politicians attacked the Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TDFA) for failing to stop the distribution of these harmful cosmetic goods.

It is unclear whether these recent alerts reflect a growing problem or greater willingness on the part of the African authorities to tackle the issue of unsafe cosmetics.

Their failure to create and then enforce effective regulation in the past has discouraged many large international cosmetic companies from exploring Africa as a consumer market.

Dr Annelie Struessmann, the author of a paper on cosmetic regulation in Africa, said poverty, corruption and cultural factors have all stood in the way of the development of effective legislation.

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