FDA swoop down on Baclaran stores, seize mercury-laced cosmetics

ecowaste-beauty-products-with-mercury

REGULATORS from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Tuesday swooped down on Baclaran shops and seized skin whitening products laden with mercury, a highly toxic chemical poison.

Together with the EcoWaste Coalition’s AlerToxic Patrol, the FDA inspected several Chinese drug stores as well as beauty product stores situated in both the Parañaque and Pasay sides of Baclaran.

The joint health information and enforcement action by the government and the civil society came on the heels of a renewed drive to stop the illegal trade of mercury-containing cosmetics, an explicit breach of R.A. 9711, the FDA Act of 2009, and R.A. 7394, the Consumer Act of the Philippines.

FDA Director Dr. Kenneth Hartigan-Go has earlier warned that “chronic use reduces the skin’s normal resistance against bacterial and fungal infections,” and that “the transfer of mercury to fetuses of pregnant women may manifest as neurodevelopment deficits later in life.”

“We appeal to all traders to abide by the FDA’s directive to prevent exposure and disease from mercury-containing cosmetics. At the same time, we urge our health, police and local authorities to vigorously enforce the law,” said Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition, Project Protect, adding that “the strong arm of the law could finally put an end to this dangerous trade that plays on some people’s craving for lighter complexion.”

The FDA on November 28 came out with DOH-FDA Advisory 2012-018 enlarging the list of banned mercury-tainted cosmetics now numbering at 71, while the EcoWaste Coalition on December 8 uncovered the sale of five more skin whitening products loaded with mercury exceeding the regulatory limit of 1 part per million (ppm).

It will be recalled that the EcoWaste Coalition in July and in August this year pinpointed Baclaran as a “hotspot” due to the blatant trade of banned mercury-loaded cosmetics in the bustling hub of commerce and trade.

A market surveillance conducted by the group last Saturday and also today prior to the event re-confirmed that mercury-laden skin whitening products are widely available in Baclaran, including banned Aichun, Jiaoli,  Long Dian Tu, S’zitang products, as well as“Natural Orange Whitening and Anti-Aging Package,” “TVC Spot Remover” and “Spring Return Ginseng and Pearl Natural Pure Plants Whitening Cream,” which are yet to be banned.

During today’s event, the FDA representatives explained the latest directive from the agency and gave non-compliant stores with appropriate notices.

To the delight of curious passers-by, EcoWaste volunteers from Buklod Tao sang the following song to the tune of “Jingle Bells” while the FDA inspection was going on:

Mercury, mercury, toxic sa kalusugan (Mercury, mercury, toxic to human health)
Pampaputing may mercury, malalagot ka dyan (Skin whitening with mercury can endanger you)
Mercury, mercury, toxic rin sa kalikasan (Mercury, mercury is also toxic to environment)
Itigil na, itigil na ang pagbebenta niyan, hoy! (Stop its sale, stop its sale, hoy!)

“The song says it all. We hope the store owners get the message, loud and clear,” Lucero said.

They also provided store owners with copies of the latest DOH-FDA advisory, as well as relevant posters, factsheets and newspaper clippings about mercury in products and their adverse health and environmental effects.

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