Consumer group to Belo: Stop sale of cancer-causing products
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – A consumer and environmental health group urged the company behind the Belo Essentials skin care product line to pull out from store shelves some items that authorities have recalled because they contain a banned ingredient.
The EcoWaste Coalition said in a statement on Friday, August 5, that these products by Intelligent Skin Care Inc should have been out of the market as of July 31.
But their market surveillance from August 1 to 3 revealed that certain Belo Essentials products with the banned ingredient isobutyl paraben were still being sold in 29 branches in 17 retail establishments in 10 Metro Manila cities.
In a statement sent to Rappler, ISCI clarified that since 2009 their products no longer contained isobutyl paraben, the ingredient banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Because its supplier, Eurochemicals, failed to notify ISCI about it, they were unable to revise and adjust their packaging ingredients list. ISCI general manager Robby Sicam said they are willing to have their products undergo tests to show they do not contain the harmful ingredient.
Identified as endocrine-disrupting chemicals, parabens have been associated with breast cancer, tumors of the uterus, abnormal development of the testes, infertility, and other reproductive health problems, according to EcoWaste Coalition.
"If these products are still available in leading retail establishments in Metro Manila, we presume that the same products are still being offered for sale in other parts of the country. Some of the recalled products are also being sold online," said Thony Dizon, coordinator of the group's Project Protect.
These products, according to the group, include:
- Belo Essentials Whitening Lotion with SPF 30 (white container)
- Belo Essentials Whitening Lotion with SPF 30 (off-white container; with sub-text “complete defense from UVA and UVB rays”)
- Belo Essentials Whitening Lotion with Skin Vitamins (with sub-text “lavishes skin with long lasting moisture”)
- Belo Essentials Moisturizing Whitening Body Bar with Nourishing Skin Vitamins (white and light blue box)
- Belo Essentials Moisturizing Whitening Body Bar with Nourishing Skin Vitamins (pink and blue box)
- Belo Essentials Smoothening Whitening Body Bar with Exfoliating Microbeads (pink box)
The group also listed in a blog post the said establishments that still sold these products as of August 3.
The EcoWaste Coalition said it has already notified the FDA about the issue, through a report to the Center for Cosmetics Regulation and Research.
In April, the FDA issued an advisory reiterating the ban on 5 types of paraben, including isobutyl paraben, in accordance with an ASEAN Cosmetics Directive, which said that these substances "must not form part of the composition of cosmetic products."
The FDA had earlier ordered the cosmetics industry to comply by December 2015.
'Comply without delay'
Dizon urged Intelligent Skin Care Inc to "review the effectiveness of their recall strategy and to comply with the FDA’s product recall order without delay."
He added that retail establishments should likewise take the recalled products off their shelves and have them returned to Intelligent Skin Care Inc "for environmentally-sound disposal."
Meanwhile, the group found during its survey a "paraben-free" Belo Essentials product: Belo Essentials Moisturizing Whitening Body Bar with Nourishing Skin Vitamins, enclosed in a pink and blue box.
The coalition said this indicates "the company’s capacity to remove not only the banned isobutyl paraben, but also the other types of permitted parabens from the product formulation." – Michael Bueza/Rappler.com