The FDA has posted an advisory listing of 71 skin whitening creams that were found to contain highly toxic mercury above the allowable limit of 1 part per million (ppm) in direct violation of Republic Act No. 9711, the FDA Act of 2009, and Republic Act No. 7394, the Consumer Act of the Philippines.
The move comes as music to the ears of environmental watchdog ‘The EcoWaste Coalition’, who has in recent months been putting pressure on the Administration to crack down on illegal products after it discovered first hand that cosmetics containing mercury were still available over the counter, despite being banned in the region.
“In test buys conducted last month, we were able to buy two banned imported beauty brands in stalls just ‘a stone’s throw away’ from the FDA,” the watchdog said in a September statement.
Making the list
Included in the FDA’s list of banned products were 20 items found by the watchdog's AlerToxic Patrol (14 in 2012 and 6 in 2011) that subsequently revealed excessive levels of mercury such as 'Ailke Perfect Salvation Rosy Whitening A and B Cream' with 63,516 ppm of mercury, 'Maidaifu Herbal Moisturizing Cream Wrinkles Harmonie Cream' with 47,891 ppm, 'Bai Li Tou Hong Cream' with 34,177 ppm, 'Feique Golden Aloe Whitening Cream' with 28,806 ppm and 'Miss Beauty Magic Cream' with 28,600 ppm.
The full list of products can be viewed here.
Reactions to mercury in cosmetics includes anything from skin burns, rashes, or discoloration and scarring, whilst the absorption of high levels in a short period of time may even lead to severe gastroenteritis, burning mouth pain, abdominal pain, or vomiting.
World record worthy..
Additional to the list on the website, FDA director Dr. Kenneth Hartigan-Go, an internist specializing in clinical pharmacology and toxicology also drove home just how important matters like this are to the Administration.
“Local government units and agencies are deputized to apprehend vendors or outlets found selling highly toxic cosmetics to prevent further exposure of consumers and to protect the environment.”
Whilst the EcoWaste Coalition concluded that it; "Lauds the FDA for its latest action to protect consumers against mercury exposure, it may have set a world record of banning the most number of mercury-laden skin lightening products, despite its budgetary and manpower limitations."