Customs announces test results on cosmetics samples in Hong Kong

22 Sep 2006

Officers of the Customs and Excise Department took nine samples of a brand of cosmetic products from the local (Hong Kong) market last Friday (September 15). The samples were sent to the Government Chemist for safety tests and advice from the Department of Health on the aspect of health was subsequently sought.

A spokesman of the Customs and Excise Department said today (September 22), "The Department of Health advised that the level of chromium in the nine samples was considered to be low, and the corresponding health risks posed by cosmetics containing such levels of chromium should be low under normal usage.

"The Customs and Excise Department believed that taking into account the low level of neodymium present in one tested sample 'Whitening Source Pan-Cake' and the daily consumption of the product by users is small, this sample is reasonably safe under normal use," he said.

"There is no evidence to suggest that the cosmetic products, though found to contain small amounts of chromium and/or neodymium, fail to comply with the General Safety Requirement under the Consumer Goods Safety Ordinance," he said.

Tests results of the Government Chemist indicated that among the nine samples, eight of them had a concentration of chromium ranging from 0.02 ppm to 0.40 ppm, and one has a concentration of 0.01 ppm of Neodymium.

The remaining sample, a sample of "Whitening Source Pan-Cake", had a concentration of chromium and neodymium of 5.20 ppm and 4.20 ppm respectively.

Details of the results are as follows:

Sample Description Quantity (mg/kg)
Chromium Neodymium
1 Whitening Source Pan-Cake 5.20 4.20
2 Advanced Protect Essence UV 0.06 Not detected*
3 Advanced Signs Treatment 0.08 Not detected*
4 Facial Treatment Cleansing Oil 0.06 Not detected*
5 Facial Treatment Essence 0.02 Not detected*
6 Whitening Source Liquid Foundation (OB-2) 0.26 Not detected*
7 Whitening Source Liquid Foundation (OP-3) 0.10 Not detected*
8 Facial Treatment Mask 0.02 Not detected*
9 Power Signs Treatment Foundation (OB-2) 0.40 0.01

* Detection limit is 0.01 mg/kg

Citing the relating standards for law enforcement, the Customs spokesman said: "According to the 'Hygienic Standard for Cosmetics' of the National Standard of People's Republic of China (GB7916-87), and Cosmetic Directive of European Commission 76/768/EEC (Directive), any use of chromium and neodymium as ingredients in cosmetic products is not allowed. But the directive provides that the presence of traces of chromium or neodymium is allowed provided that such substances are technically unavoidable in the goods manufacturing process. The cosmetic product concerned must not cause damage to human health under normal use."

On the acceptable levels of chromium or neodymium, the Department of Health advised that there is currently no established acceptable level of chromium and neodymium in cosmetics, and there is no established acceptable daily intake for neodymium. Given the level of chromium in the nine samples as detected by the Government Laboratory was considered to be low, the corresponding health risks posed by cosmetics containing such level of chromium should be low under normal usage. The Department of Health advised users who felt unwell after consuming cosmetic products to seek medical help."

The Customs and Excise Department will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that cosmetics products are safe for use by consumers.

According to the Consumer Goods Safety Ordinance, no person shall import, manufacture or supply consumer goods unless the consumer goods comply with the general safety requirement. A person who commits the offence is liable on first conviction to a fine of $100,000 and to imprisonment for one year; and on subsequent conviction to a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for two years.

To make a report to Hong Kong Customs on suspected unsafe consumer goods, the public is advised to mail a letter to the Consumer Protection and Prosecution Bureau, Customs and Excise Department, 11/F, North Point Government Office Building, 333 Java Road, North Point, Hong Kong or call the 24-hour Customs hotline 2545 6182.

Ends/Friday, September 22, 2006
Issued at HKT 18:26

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