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Toxic 'miraculous cream' banned in 2010 still sold online

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The toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition deplored the online sale of mercury-laden Jiaoli Miraculous Cream, which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned 13 years ago for posing “imminent danger or injury” to consumers.

Banned in February 2010 along with two other Jiaoli products, Jiaoli Miraculous Cream was analyzed by the FDA and found contaminated with mercury above the maximum allowable limit of one part per million (ppm).

“Thirteen years have gone by since the FDA advisory was issued and Jiaoli Miraculous Cream continues to be sold with impunity despite the threat of being severely penalized,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition. “Worse, third-party dealers have found an easy way to promote and sell it far and wide through online shopping platforms with no reach limitations.”

Jiaoli Miraculous Cream is supposedly “prepared from famous Chinese traditional medicine,” alleging “it can invigorate the circulation of the blood, dispel melanin gradually and remove harmful substances from the skin so that the skin will be become clean, rosy and healthy” as written on the package insert.

The product, which promises to “remove pigment and whiten the skin,” provides a listing of its ingredients, but not mercury. 

Based on the chemical screening conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device, the Jiaoli Miraculous Cream that it ordered online last June 2 for P118 is contaminated with mercury measured at 447 ppm (day cream) and 671 ppm (night cream).  

Previous samples were found to contain higher levels of mercury.  For example, the Jiaoli Miraculous Cream that the group analyzed in 2011 with assistance from the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN) had more than 7,000 ppm mercury, while the one tested in South Korea by the Wonjin Institute for Occupational and Environmental Health contained over 2,000 ppm of mercury.

“While its mercury content is 'lower' than the previous samples, the product would still be illegal to sell not only in the Philippines but globally,” said Lucero.  The Minamata Convention on Mercury, which entered into force in 2017, phased out in 2020 the manufacture, import or export of cosmetics such as skin lightening products with mercury above one ppm.

Aside from the FDA, health regulators in Brunei Darussalam, Hong Kong, Norway and the USA (California and Minnesota) have taken action to prohibit the sale of Jiaoli Miraculous Cream to protect their citizens from mercury poisoning via cosmetic use.  

Hong Kong’s Department of Health (DH) reminded the public to watch out for the unsafe Jiaoli Miraculous Cream as early as 2007 following a mercury poisoning incident involving a 39-year woman who was hospitalized and found to have high levels of mercury in her blood after using the product for two months.

“Mercury causes damage mainly to the nervous system and kidneys. Symptoms may include tremor, irritability, insomnia, memory deterioration, difficulty with concentrating, impaired hearing and vision or change in taste. In most severe cases, renal failure may occur,” warned Hong Kong’s DH.

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