FDA warns against mercury content of 15 skin-whitening products

Health authorities warned the public against a new batch of 15 skin-whitening products after finding them tainted with mercury.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued Advisory 2013-053 where it noted the products had no FDA notification, meaning they should not be sold or offered for sale or use.

"After careful review of the products, 15 were assayed by the FDA Central Laboratory for toxic mercury levels. Laboratory results showed that 11 out of the 15 products or 73.33 percent were found to contain mercury levels more than 1ppm (parts per million)," FDA head Kenneth Hartigan-Go said.

The FDA identified the 11 products with more than 1 ppm mercury as:

-Sanli Eliminating Freckle Cream Plus Complex Vitamin C & E -Erna Whitening Cream -Top Shirley Nourishing Cream -Jiao Li Huichunsu Specific Eliminating Freckle Cream -Jiao Li Speckle-Dispelling and Whitening Cream -LMSER Cream -Gemli Beauty Series Freckles Cream Plus Placenta Extract -Zhjren 7 Day Beauty Elegant Moisturizing and Whitening Day Cream and Night Cream -Zhjren Whitening Durdy Combination Suit -White Magnolia Intensive Repair Essence & Powerful Spot Remover -Angela Placenta Whitening Cream (Tender Skin & Whitening)

The FDA also noted five products had no FDA market authorization or notification and should not be sold.

These included:

-Excellent Royalsuffi Fade-Out Cream-Day Cream -Yu Yan Excellent Yest Intensive Night Cream -Baschi Day & Night Cream and Baschi Whitening Cream -Feique Herbal Extract Whitening Freckle-Removing Series

But Hartigan-Go said the finding is "not surprising for cosmetic products without FDA market authorization."

He said there are "unscrupulous manufacturers and traders that add mercury salts in cosmetic products to inhibit the formation of skin melanin which will result to lighter skin tones."

The FDA reminded consumers of adverse health effects including kidney damage, skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring. Chronic use reduces the skin's normal resistance against bacterial and fungal infections.

"Other effects include anxiety, depression or psychosis and peripheral neuropathy. The transfer of mercury to fetuses of pregnant women may manifest as neurodevelopment deficits later in life," he said.

Meanwhile, Hartigan-Go appealed to mall owners' "sense of corporate social responsibility" to require their tenants to sell cosmetic products sourced from distributors or importers that have an FDA license to operate and product Certificates of Notification.

He ordered FDA regulation officers to conduct inventory and seizure of products without FDA certificates of notification and those with high levels of mercury.

Also, he asked the Bureau of Customs to remain vigilant and keep unregistered health products from entering the country. On the other hand, he asked consumers to check the FDA website to see if a cosmetic product is registered. — KDM, GMA News