18 September 2022, Quezon City. The EcoWaste Coalition has complimented the government of Quezon City for its latest action to enforce laws and regulations aimed at protecting consumers from adulterated, unregistered, or misbranded health products, including cosmetics contaminated with mercury.

The watchdog group specifically cited the Quezon City Health Department (QCHD) headed by officer-in-charge Dr. Esperanza Anita Escaño-Arias for directing its Food and Drug Regulation Officers (FDROs) to inspect stores selling health products such as cosmetics and medicines.

“We laud the Quezon City Government for monitoring business compliance to product safety laws and regulations and for confiscating items that may endanger the health of consumers,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition. “Sustained market surveillance and enforcement will help in stopping the circulation of non-compliant and unsafe products in the market and thus protect consumers from dangerous goods and unfair trade practices.”

In line with the mission orders signed by Dr. Arias, the assigned FDROs recently inspected cosmetic and food supplement stores operating within the premises of Anson Square, Ever Commonwealth, Farmers Plaza, Robinsons Novaliches, and Shopwise Cubao.

The inspections were carried out to check on store compliance with regulations pertaining to the sale of health products under the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Act (RA 9711), Philippine Pharmacy Act (RA 10918), Special Law on Counterfeit Drugs (RA 8203), Consumer Act of the Philippines (RA 7394) and the Quezon City Ordinance 2767-2018 banning the manufacture, distribution and sale of mercury-containing skin whitening cosmetics.

The FDROs “packed, sealed, and countersigned” the confiscated non-compliant health products, including products with incomplete labeling information or labeled in a foreign language, products without valid notification or registration, over-the-counter and prescription drugs, and FDA-warned health products.

Copies of the investigation reports and pertinent photos were provided by the QCHD to the Quezon City Business Permit and Licensing Department “for immediate legal action” and to the various centers under the FDA “for further investigation and for proper disposal of the unregistered products.” Copies were likewise given to the QCHD-Environmental Sanitation Division, mall administrators and the EcoWaste Coalition.

It will be recalled that the EcoWaste Coalition wrote to Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte and Dr. Arias last August 22 to report the unlawful sale of FDA-banned mercury-containing skin whitening cosmetics in at least 10 stores in violation of Quezon City Ordinance 2767-2018.

Prior to this, the group went store-hopping on August 18 to raise vendors’ awareness about the dangers of mercury in skin-lightening products, in observance of the fifth anniversary of the entry into force of the Minamata Convention of Mercury, which, among other provisions, phased out in 2020 the manufacture, import or export of cosmetics with mercury.

“We hope that other local authorities will take their cue from Quezon City, as well as Baguio City, and conduct law enforcement actions to protect their constituents, especially women of child-bearing age, from non-compliant health products such as cosmetics contaminated with mercury and others,” added Lucero.

Last July 20, the Baguio City Government, together with the FDA Regional Enforcement Unit North Luzon Cluster, conducted synchronized inventory and seizure operations targeting mercury-laden cosmetics in response to the report lodged by the EcoWaste Coalition on July 1.