Photo shows some of the FDA-banned mercury-added cosmetics being sold in QC despite the citywide ban

EcoWaste Coalition Backs QC’s Heightened Campaign to Rid the City of Mercury-Adulterated Cosmetics

21 February 2024, Quezon City. The toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition has lauded the Quezon City Health Department (QCHD) for its heightened campaign to curb the unlawful sale of skin lightening products containing mercury, which is toxic and harmful to the human body and the environment.

At the Technical Working Group (TWG) meeting convened yesterday, February 20, by the Food and Drug Regulation Office (FDRO), participants discussed the necessary steps to counter the continuing trade of cosmetic products laden with mercury such as contraband facial creams with very high concentrations of mercury that would classify them as a hazardous waste.

Dr. Laarni Malapit of QC Health Department chairs the Technical Working Group meeting to address the unlawful sale of mercury cosmetics in the city

The TWG meeting was triggered by the complaint filed by the EcoWaste Coalition detailing the illegal sale of cosmetics flagged by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for containing mercury and/or for lacking the required market authorization, which is prohibited in Quezon City.

Enacted in 2018, Quezon City Ordinance No. 2767 bans and penalizes the manufacture, distribution and sale of skin whitening cosmetics with mercury, a toxic chemical not allowed in the composition of cosmetic products as per the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive, which also limits mercury in such products to not more than one part per million (ppm).

In response to the said complaint, the FDRO led by pharmacist Janet Dacanay inspected some of the pinpointed stores, packed and sealed the violative products, and provided copies of investigation reports to the Quezon City Business Permit and Licensing Department, QCHD-Environmental Sanitation Division, FDA and to the EcoWaste Coalition.

“We commend the QCHD, particularly the FDRO, for conducting a prompt investigation into our complaint amid other equally important concerns they have to attend to,” said Manny Calonzo, Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition. “The FDRO plays a vital role in ensuring business compliance to the citywide ban on dangerous cosmetics with mercury content. We are ready to collaborate with and assist the QCHD and the FDRO in every way we can.”

Prior to the meeting, the EcoWaste Coalition visited a few retail hubs in Quezon City on February 18 and found seven stores still selling FDA-banned cosmetics, particularly Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene, Goree Day & Night Beauty Cream, Goree Gold 24K Beauty Cream and 88 Total White Underarm Cream.

“We have noted a significant decrease in the number of stores selling FDA-banned cosmetics with mercury from 28 stores in November-December 2023 to seven stores in February 2024,” Calonzo commented. “With the renewed campaign led by the QCHD, it is not impossible for the number of erring stores to go down to zero, especially if customs authorities would be able to block the entry of Goree and other adulterated products into the country’s ports.”

Since mercury-added cosmetics are also sold in other cities and towns despite the numerous advisories issued by the FDA, the EcoWaste Coalition urged other local government units (LGUs) to replicate the QC model: enact the necessary ordinance and have it publicized and enforced.

The objectives of the said Quezon City ordinance are to 1) halt the illegal manufacture, importation, marketing and promotion, distribution and sale of cosmetic products not compliant with the state and ASEAN policy on mercury in cosmetics, 2) promote citizen awareness about the health and environmental hazards of consuming mercury-containing cosmetics; and 3) ensure the environmentally-sound management of banned, recalled and/or confiscated mercury-containing cosmetics.

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