Toxic watchdog BAN Toxics today commended the Quezon City Health Department (QCHD) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its recent operation against the sale of mercury-added skin whitening creams in one of the city’s established malls.

On June 14, BAN Toxics wrote to QCHD and the FDA urging them to investigate the ongoing sale of prohibited skin whitening creams in beauty shops located inside Ever Gotesco Mall on Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City. The group called on the regulatory agencies to take immediate action to halt the unauthorized sale of mercury-added skin whitening creams.

Following BAN Toxics’ request, the FDA and QCHD conducted an on-site investigation on June 21 and found that 3 of the 7 beauty shops had been selling banned beauty products in violation of Republic Act 9711 (FDA Act of 2009) and QC Ordinance 2767 S-2018, which bans the manufacture, distribution, and sale of mercury-containing skin whitening cosmetics in Quezon City.

The QC Ordinance states that any violation shall be punishable as follows:

  • First offense: A fine of two thousand pesos (P 2,000.00) and confiscation of banned cosmetic products;
  • Second offense: A fine of three thousand pesos (P 3,000.00) and suspension of business operations until compliance with the ordinance;
  • Third offense: A fine of five thousand pesos (P 5,000.00), imprisonment for thirty (30) days, or cancellation of the business license issued by the city, or both, at the discretion of the court.

The investigation team confiscated 27 beauty products, including Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene Avocado & Aloevera, Goree Day & Night Beauty Cream Oil-Free Total Fairness System, Goree Gold 24K Beauty Cream, and 88 Total White Underarm Cream. These skin whitening products have been banned since 2017 due to their toxic mercury concentration.

“We laud the FDA and the QCHD for taking regulatory action against these banned beauty products,” said Thony Dizon, Toxics Campaigner, BAN Toxics.

“This enforcement action should draw the attention of beauty shop owners nationwide to comply with existing regulations on prohibited beauty products. We urge sellers to remove mercury-added products from their shelves and help protect the consuming public from mercury exposure,” he added.

Mercury is listed by the World Health Organization as one of the top chemicals of major health concern due to its toxic nature and adverse effects on human health and the environment. Exposure to mercury and mercury compounds can cause harm to the nervous, digestive, and immune system, and may even cause death in some cases. Dental amalgams, mercury-containing medical measuring devices, and artisanal and small-scale gold mining activities are the main causes of human exposure to mercury.

  BAN Toxics further urges local government units to enact similar ordinances, as in the case of Quezon City, to put an end to the illegal trading of mercury-added skin lightening products.

“It is the duty of both the government and shop owners to protect consumers from exposure to toxic mercury and uphold the public’s right to health,” stated BAN Toxics.

The group added that it will continue to conduct market monitoring of beauty shops in nearby cities and provinces to document and report to authorities on the illegal trading of skin whitening products contaminated with toxic mercury.