Quezon City. The toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition again warned those aspiring for lighter and flawless skin to desist from using a Pakistan-made facial cream laden with high concentrations of mercury, a poisonous chemical banned in cosmetic product formulations.
The group made the appeal following the issuance of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Advisory No. 2023-2344 issued on November 9 and published on the agency’s website on November 24. Consumers were told not to purchase and use Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene Avocado & Aloe Vera, which has no valid Certificate of Product Notification (CPN).
“We commend the FDA for releasing another public health warning against this contraband cosmetic, and we urge consumers to heed the advice of our health experts and desist from using this unauthorized product,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition. “Skin whiteners containing mercury are hazardous to health. The best protection is not to use such products and to recognize that ‘beauty’ comes in all colors.”
The FDA first banned Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene, along with Goree Day & Night Whitening Cream, in 2017 after testing positive for mercury above the maximum limit of one part per million (ppm) under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive.
Despite the warning not to distribute them, these two unauthorized Goree products, plus the recently introduced Goree Gold 24K Beauty Cream, are sold with impunity in some cosmetic product stores and in online shopping platforms.
To illustrate how toxic Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene Avocado & Aloe Vera is, the EcoWaste Coalition last Sunday purchased a sample from a dealer based in Novaliches, Quezon City and had it screened for mercury using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device.
As written on the label, the product was manufactured in February 2023, which contravenes the 2020 phase-out date for the production, import or export of cosmetics such as skin lightening creams and soaps with mercury content above 1 ppm as per the Minamata Convention on Mercury.
As determined via XRF screening, the product contains a whopping 28,740 ppm of mercury, way in excess of the 1 ppm limit.
Mercury is not listed among the ingredients used in making the said Goree product, which the manufacturer claims as “the best skin lightener with optimal skin penetrating base.”
Mercury is classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the “ten chemicals or groups of chemicals of major public health concern.”
“Adverse health effects of the inorganic mercury contained in skin lightening creams and soaps include: kidney damage, skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, reduction in the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections, anxiety, depression, psychosis and peripheral neuropathy,” the WHO said.
“To protect the public health from negative health effects of mercury in skin lightening products, actions are needed that engage different parts of society,” the WHO emphasized.
Among the WHO’s recommended actions to address this global problem are establishing or improving legislation, implementing compliance and enforcement strategies, strengthening laboratory capacity, conducting advocacy campaigns, and increasing awareness of health risks associated with skin lightening products, including those containing mercury.
The EcoWaste Coalition is one with the FDA, WHO and the international community in pushing for the elimination of dangerous cosmetics containing toxic mercury.