Egay Uy .
THE Food and Drug Administration, through FDA Advisory No. 2017-289 dated Oct. 30, 2017, issued “Public Health Warning Against the Use of Unnotified Cosmetic Products Found to Contain Toxic Mercury Levels.”
This issuance advises the public against purchasing and using certain cosmetic products that were tested and found to contain toxic mercury levels beyond the one parts per million limit set by the FDA.
According to the FDA, its “post-marketing surveillance activities have verified” that certain cosmetic products have not gone through the verification process and have not been issued the proper authorization in the form of acknowledged cosmetic notifications.
Much lately, the Ecowaste Coalition, in a press release dated June 4, 2019, bared the alleged illegal sale in the city of health-damaging skin whitening creams that contain mercury. It further stated that “chemical screening using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device detected mercury in all the analysed items in a range of 125 to 22,700 parts per million (ppm), way above the maximum allowable limit of 1 ppm.”
The local FDA office should promptly act on this report by the Ecowaste Coalition, and on its own findings, to protect the public in general from the ill effects of excessive mercury exposure. The FDA should be fully equipped with the means and the resources to quickly address reports like this not only because it is a government regulatory office, but more importantly because public health is at stake.
I came to know that the FDA which used to be under the Department of Health administratively, and the FDA central office operationally, was recently placed administratively and operationally directly under the FDA central office in Manila and with a supervising cluster office in Davao.
The top honcho of the FDA should review the office organization and deployment of personnel because of the importance of the matters under its watch – food and drugs. If the FDA office in Cagayan de Oro cannot immediately take action on matters that are brought before it because it has to “seek clearance” from the head or cluster office, it could pose additional hazard to the public because of delayed actions.
The Cagayan de Oro City Price Coordinating Council will most willingly be offering its assistance to the FDA so that pre-emptive or preventive actions can immediately be taken, if only to give life to its commitment. Bottomline: consumer protection.
(Egay Uy is a lawyer. He chairs the City’s Regulatory and Complaint Board, co-chairs with the city mayor the City Price Coordinating Council, and chairs the city’s Joint Inspection Team. He retired as a vice president of Cepalco.)