ONLINE shopping sites have been asked to stop carrying advertising for cosmetics products like skin whiteners containing mercury, as identified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Aileen A. Lucero, EcoWaste Coalition national coordinator, said the organization is tracking “unauthorized and unsafe cosmetics” offered by third-party sellers on e-commerce platforms Lazada and Shopee.

“In time for the 8.8 online shopping sale, our (group) carefully monitored these hugely popular online shopping sites from August 1 to 6.  Much to our disappointment, hundreds of FDA-banned or flagged skin care products, especially skin lightening facial creams, are being advertised and sold as if these products are legal and safe,” Ms. Lucero said in a statement on Monday.

“It’s high time for government regulators to crack the whip and stop the use of online shopping platforms to peddle mercury-added skin whiteners,” she added.

According to the group, it used the various advisories issued by the FDA as reference for listings of products that are banned or flagged, as well as public health warnings issued since 2010.

“Among those found widely sold online are Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene and Goree Day & Night Beauty Cream from Pakistan. To recall, the FDA through Advisory No. 2017-289 advised consumers not to purchase and use these products, which the agency tested and found to contain mercury in excess of one part per million (ppm),” EcoWaste Coalition said.

EcoWaste Coalition said the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive has identified mercury and its compounds among the substances that are not allowed in cosmetics.

According to the regional directive, the upper limit for mercury content is one part per million (ppm).

Cosmetic products with mercury content higher than one ppm, such as skin lightening creams and soaps, are among the products whose manufacture, import and export were phased out in 2020.

“The continued use of online shopping platforms for the unlawful trade of mercury-added skin lighteners is a brazen violation of the 2020 global phase-out deadline for such hazardous cosmetics,” Ms. Lucero said.

EcoWaste Coalition also urged the Environment and Trade departments to fast-track the completion of their pending joint administrative order that will restrict the online trade of regulated chemicals such as mercury.

Sought for comment, Lazada said in a statement that the sale of products containing hazardous substances is prohibited on the platform.

“Our team does a daily manual sweep of product listings which violate existing policies and are removed when identified. We will continue to take strong action against sellers found breaching our platform’s terms and conditions,” Lazada said.

BusinessWorld solicited a comment from Shopee, but it had not replied at deadline time. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave