Toxic watchdog group BAN Toxics warns consumers about the selling of a “new” brand of Pakistan-made Goree Gold Beauty Cream 24K in local beauty shops, despite the public health warning issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) against Skin Lightening Products (SLPs) containing toxic mercury – a known hazard to human health.
In a recent market monitoring activity conducted by BAN Toxics Patrollers, the group managed to purchase a “new” brand of Pakistan-made SLPs being sold for P200 in the local market. Monitoring the online shopping platforms Shoppe and Lazada, the products are also being offered for sale from P150 to P350 each. Using a SCIAPS X-200 HH XRF Analyzer, the Goree Gold Beauty Cream 24k 3-in-1 Formula was found to contain toxic mercury with up to 41,500 parts per million (ppm), exceeding the allowable limit of 1 ppm set by the FDA and as published in the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive.
“The discovery found by BAN Toxics added up to the evidence on the unwarranted selling of unregistered and unnotified SLPs containing mercury in the market both on-site and online,” said Thony Dizon, Toxics Campaigner of BAN Toxics.
“Our market monitoring efforts should serve as a warning to beauty shops as well as online shopping platforms to strictly comply with the regulations. Sellers should verify the products first, and if found to be prohibited, they should remove it immediately,” he added.
Citing information on the packaging of the product, Goree Gold Beauty Cream 24K is a unique combination of synthetic minerals, vitamins, and organic ingredients. It penetrates to visibly lighten and clarify the skin. The product label has a Pakistan Standards marking and has recently been manufactured with an expiration date of March 2026. The group noted that the product does not have “mercury” listed in the ingredients label.
According to the EEB/ZMWG published a Global SLP Report: “Online Marketing of Toxic Skin Lighteners, Mercury cosmetics marketed as a solution to dark skin,” a total of 213 SLP samples were purchased by our partner NGOs from 23 online platforms in 12 countries, and tested for mercury. Out of the 213 SLPs samples, 191 (90%) were found to contain mercury levels that exceeded the widely accepted legal threshold of 1 ppm. The mercury concentration for these samples ranged between just over 1 ppm to 74,800 ppm. Based on information on the product packaging, 121 (63%) of the 191 samples were manufactured or distributed from Pakistan (34%), Thailand (17%) or China (13%).
Adding to the challenge of identifying the sources of mercury SLPs, information on packaging is often misleading or false, and the possibility of counterfeit SLPs cannot be dismissed. “Our investigations show that most of the mercury-added SLPs did not list mercury in the ingredients, and that many mercury-added SLPs were available on multiple online platforms around the world,” as cited in the report.
The report also highlighted the current lack of effective controls to prevent harmful and illegal mercury-added SLPs from being manufactured and offered online. “Online platforms are evading their responsibility to prevent unscrupulous merchants from advertising, marketing and selling illicit mercury-added SLPs, which is occurring even in countries that are Parties to the Convention. This demonstrates the need for a more robust and coordinated international response, including additional restrictive measures.”
“BAN Toxics calls the attention of the FDA to conduct post-marketing surveillance on the sale of banned mercury-added SLPs in the market, both on-site and online. We further recommend the Bureau of Customs to work hand-in-hand with the FDA to prevent the entry of unnotified and unregistered mercury-added SLPs in the country,” the group added.
The FDA issued numerous Public Health Warnings against the use of unnotified cosmetic products found to contain toxic mercury (Hg). Mercury lightens the skin by suppressing the production of melanin and can also remove age spots, freckles, blemishes and wrinkles. However, it may lead to rashes, skin discoloration, and blotching, and can enter the body through absorption through the skin, inhalation, or orally.
In 2020, the Philippines ratified the Minamata Convention on Mercury, a legally-binding global treaty that seeks to protect human health and the environment from man-made emissions of mercury and mercury compounds. The group has been an active participant in treaty meetings and has advocated for the reduction and, if possible, elimination of anthropogenic uses of mercury in recent years.