Paraben-’tainted’ cosmetics being sold despite ban

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BANNED CHEMICALS A photo of a Belo Essentials product, reportedly from a supermarket in Taguig, listing not only isobutyl paraben, but all five paraben compounds banned by the Food and Drug Administration last year. PHOTO ECOWASTE COALITION

BANNED CHEMICALS A photo of a Belo Essentials product, reportedly from a supermarket in Taguig, listing not only isobutyl paraben, but all five paraben compounds banned by the Food and Drug Administration last year. PHOTO ECOWASTE COALITION

But distributor says Belo products paraben-free
COSMETIC products containing the banned substance, isobutyl paraben have been found being sold in stores months after their deadline for the removal from the shelves had passed, a consumer and environment advocacy group complained over the weekend.

According to the EcoWaste Coalition, an agreement concluded between the company and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had warranted that all products of the Belo Essentials brand containing isobutyl paraben to be withdrawn from stores by July 31.

However, surveillance conducted by the group between August 1 and August 3, has found that the banned products were still available for sale “in 29 branches of 17 leading retail establishments in 10 Metro Manila cities—Caloocan, Makati, Mandaluyong, Manila, Muntinlupa, Pasay, Pasig, Quezon, San Juan, and Taguig.”

The group said it reported the ongoing sale of products containing isobutyl paraben to the DFA’s Center for Cosmetics Regulation and Research on August 4, and provided photographs as evidence, which were later also posted to EcoWaste Coalition’s blog and Facebook pages.


The ban on isobutyl paraben was issued on April 20 in FDA Advisory 2016-032 to comply with the Asean Cosmetics Directive of November 2014 that added five paraben compounds to the “list of substances that must not form part of the composition of cosmetic products.” Philippine manufacturers and distributors were originally given until December 31, 2015 to comply with the ban.

The deadline for compliance was extended for Belo Essentials products after negotiations between the company and the FDA.

Adverse health effects
According to EcoWaste Coalition parabens are classified as “endocrine disrupting chemicals,” as they can mimic or otherwise interfere with hormones, particularly estrogen in women.

Online information from the US-based Mayo Clinic said studies have shown parabens are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, uterine tumors, abnormal development of the testes in male babies, infertility, and possibly other reproductive health problems.

EcoWaste Coalition identified the products in question as Belo Essentials Whitening Lotion with SPF 30; Belo Essentials Whitening Lotion with Skin Vitamins; Belo Essentials Moisturizing Whitening Body Bar with Nourishing Skin Vitamins; and Belo Essentials Smoothening Whitening Body Bar with Exfoliating Microbeads.

In a statement, Thony Dizon, coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect said, “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.”

“We therefore urge the company to review the effectiveness of their recall strategy and to comply with the FDA’s product recall order without delay. Retail establishments should remove the recalled products off the shelves and have them returned to the company for environmentally-sound disposal,” he added.

Products ‘mislabeled’
The distributor of Belo Essentials products, however, said over the weekend that the products did not actually contain isobutyl paraben, but were simply mislabeled.

Intelligent Skin Care Inc. (ISCI) said in a statement that its manufacturer Eurochemicals removed the banned ingredient from the products in 2009, but that ISCI was never informed of the change in formulation.

“As a result, we were not able to revise and adjust the ingredients list on the packaging, even though [the products]were already free from the material in question,” the company said.

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