EcoWaste flags sale of mercury-laden whitening cream product in provinces

Published November 15, 2021, 3:02 PM

by Joseph Pedrajas

A toxics watchdog group has flagged an imported skin whitening cream product claiming to have “no side effects” despite containing an alarming level of mercury that is still being sold in the market.

EcoWaste Coalition in a statement Monday condemned the unrelenting sale of Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene and Goree Day & Night Beauty Cream in the markets of Pampanga, Batangas and Quezon provinces.

This came although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) already issued through FDA Advisory 2017-289 a warning against their distribution, sale and use.

“The unchecked sale of banned Goree skin cosmetics necessitates a renewed government-led drive to halt their sale in all outlets, including in online shopping platforms,” said Thony Dizon, the group’s chemical safety campaigner.

“There is an apparent need to improve compliance monitoring and enforcement measures, including training customs inspectors and empowering local government units to effectively implement the ban on mercury in cosmetics,” he added.

According to the group, they were able to purchase the said banned products for P180 to P250 per unit from beauty and herbal product stores in Mabalacat and San Fernando Cities in Pampanga, and in Batangas City and Lucena City.

With the aid of an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analytical device, the group found that mercury ranging from 28,600 to 31,200 ppm was detected on the eight samples of Goree products, which are supposedly made in Pakistan.

​”​Contrary to the ​’​no side effects​’​ claim, mercury in skin lightening products is hazardous to health as it can harm the brain, the central nervous system and the kidneys with direct and repeated exposure through the skin,​”​ Dizon said.

Skin lightening products with mercury in excess of 1 ppm are among the mercury-added products whose manufacture, import and export was phased out in 2020 under the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which counts on the Philippines among the state parties.

​Previous​​​​​ test buys​ conducted​ by the group also revealed the availability of banned Goree products in other places, particularly in Baguio, Manila, Pasay, Puerto Princesa, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, and Zamboanga Cities. The group had also purchased Goree products from third party dealers in popular online shopping platforms.