Mercury Cosmetics

(Mercury-containing Goree remains on sale despite multiple government warnings)

Quezon City. As the New Year unfolds, the toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition pushed for combined government-led measures to rid the marketplace of contraband cosmetics from Pakistan that are adulterated with high levels of mercury.

The group’s latest push for an all-out law enforcement campaign versus unauthorized Goree Beauty Creams was prompted by the apparent failure to obliterate the supply chains for the tainted cosmetics despite multiple public health warnings issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“Stopping the trade of FDA-warned Goree Beauty Creams in the market for good, including in online shopping sites, is a strategic goal that can be achieved in 2024 via inter-agency action and with support from the civil society, the media and the people,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition, who also noted “Goree has now become the dominant skin lightening product with mercury content being sold offline and online in the Philippines.”

Since 2017, the FDA has released four Goree-focused advisories warning consumers against the purchase and use of these unauthorized cosmetics, namely FDA Advisory Nos. 2017-289, 2023-2344, 2023-2391 and 2023-2392. Moreover, FDA Advisory Nos. 2018-196 and 2018-204 listed Goree among the products that are illegally sold without the required market authorization from the agency.

Based on the monitoring conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition on January 1 to 2, 2024, product listings for three FDA-banned or warned Goree products, particularly Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene, Goree Day & Night Beauty Cream and Goree Gold 24K Beauty Cream, are aplenty in both Lazada and Shopee, the two leading online shopping platforms, as if these products are authorized and legal to sell.

The group also witnessed the unlawful sale of Goree products during the market monitoring activities it conducted in 2023 in various cities, particularly in Baguio City in the Cordillera Region, Imus City in Calabarzon, Cebu, Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue Cities in Cebu Province, Davao City in the Davao Region, and in Caloocan, Makati, Manila, Marikina, Pasay, Pasig and Quezon Cities in the National Capital Region. Last December 31, it found at least five stores in Quiapo, Manila selling banned Goree products.

Goree Beauty Creams

Following the completion of the group’s monitoring activities covering 26 cities and municipalities, including nine cities located in Capiz, Iloilo and Negros Occidental Provinces, the EcoWaste Coalition in May 2022 proposed to the FDA the following action steps to remove Goree products from commerce:

  1. Reiterate through a new advisory the ban on mercury-containing Goree Beauty Creams, including the risks associated with mercury exposure, especially for women of childbearing age, and the consequences of continued use;
  2. Request the FDA’s regional enforcement units to join forces with local government units (LGUs) in the conduct of law enforcement activities, including the confiscation and environmentally sound storage and disposal of Goree and other violative cosmetics;
  3. Seek the cooperation of the management of shopping malls to ensure that stores and stalls operating within their premises do not offer for sale Goree products and other unauthorized cosmetics.
  4. Establish the legal responsibility of the management of online shopping sites in relation to the use of their platforms for the promotion and sale of Goree and other unlawful cosmetics lacking the required Certificate of Product Notification.
  5. Support the advocacy “natural is beautiful” as the safest protection against skin lightening cosmetics that may contain mercury and other hazardous substances.

In addition to the above, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the authorities to crack down and prosecute violators to the fullest extent of the law to deter smugglers of Goree Beauty Creams and their network of distributors all over the country.

Also, the EcoWaste Coalition appealed to customs authorities to take action to put an end to the smuggling of Goree Beauty Creams through the country’s airports and seaports.

Recognizing the role of LGUs in the promotion and protection of the public interest, the EcoWaste Coalition urged local authorities to enact and enforce ordinances that will penalize and stop the sale of mercury-containing cosmetics in their respective areas.

Finally, the group urged lawmakers in both houses of the 19th Congress to come up with a legislation that will prohibit and punish the manufacture, importation, distribution and sale, including in e-commerce, of cosmetics such as skin lighteners containing mercury, noting that such a law will support and advance the implementation of RA 9711 or the FDA Act and RA 7394 or the Consumer Act, as well as the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive and the Minamata Convention on Mercury.


Links to Goree product listings:

Links to FDA Advisories: (see product #25, Goree body lotion) (see product #50, Goree whitening soap) (see products 2 & 3)

EcoWaste Coalition
Let's make an eco-friendly, zero waste, and toxic-free Philippines a reality.