14 December 2023, Quezon City. The toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition reminded consumers anew to steer clear of Pakistan-made Goree Beauty Creams following the issuance of successive public health warnings by the country’s lead regulatory agency for personal care and cosmetic products.
Last month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued Advisories Nos. 2023-2344, 2023-2391 and 2023-2392 warning consumers against the purchase and use of unauthorized Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene, Goree Day & Night Beauty Cream, and Goree Gold 24K Beauty Cream, respectively.
The use of the above unauthorized cosmetics, which have not gone through the agency’s verification process and which are sold sans valid certificates of product notification, may pose health risks to consumers, the FDA warned.
“The illegal sale of these imported skin lightening creams persists despite regulatory actions by a number of countries, including the Philippines,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition. “It goes without saying that a coordinated global response is urgently required to break the unlawful production and trade of these dangerous cosmetics with mercury — for good.”
Six years ago, the FDA tested and found mercury above the maximum limit of one part per million (ppm) in two Goree products (Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene and Goree Day & Night Whitening Cream) triggering the issuance of Advisory No. 2017-289.
Chemical screening of banned Goree Beauty Creams purchased from 2017 to date by the EcoWaste Coalition from retailers in dozens of cities and municipalities from Baguio, Manila, Cebu to Davao, as well as from online sellers, showed high mercury concentrations mostly above 20,000 ppm in the analyzed Goree products.
In addition, regulatory bodies in the USA, Europe, Southeast Asia, New Zealand and Hong Kong have taken action against mercury-laden Goree Beauty Creams.
For instance, the Hong Kong’s Center for Health Protection (CHP) in November 2022 appealed to the public not to use Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene and Goree Day & Night Beauty Cream following two cases of suspected mercury poisoning involving two Filipinas aged 39 and 43, which prompted the Consulate General of the Philippines to issue a public advisory.
According to the CHP, “chronic exposure to mercury can cause damage to the nervous system and kidneys. Symptoms may include tremors, irritability, insomnia, memory deterioration, concentration difficulty, impaired hearing and vision, and change in the taste function. In severe cases, renal failure may occur.”
“As we bid adieu to 2023, we pledge to sustain our efforts to monitor the offline and online marketplaces for Goree and similar skin whiteners containing mercury and other hazardous substances. We will continue to raise awareness against the dangers of mercury in cosmetics, reject colorism and promote respect for skin tone diversity, and push for local and global actions to eliminate these poisonous cosmetics for the sake of public health and the environment.”
In the meantime, the EcoWaste Coalition called on all local government units (LGUs) to conduct random store inspections, in coordination with FDA’s field offices, to ensure that Goree Beauty Creams and other banned mercury-containing cosmetics are not offered for sale to their constituents. Also, the group urged the customs authorities to tighten checks on cosmetic imports to prevent the entry of these dangerous contraband commodities.