Despite confiscating over 15,000 unregistered health and beauty products off shelves and cube stores in 2017, the Ministry of Health (MoH) has yet to issue any fines to offenders failing to comply with government regulations.

During a press conference on Friday, a senior health official explained that the Medicines Order 2007 is enforced to protect consumers against adverse effects of unregulated or untested products. Under this order, it is compulsory for businesses — including those selling on social media platforms such as Instagram — to register with the ministry to have their products tested before making them available for public consumption.

“The Medicines Order 2007 is enforced  to ensure public safety. Businesses that wish to sell cosmetic products, medicines and health supplements must apply for a permit and licence,” Pg Dr Hj Khalifah Pg Hj Ismail said. If found guilty, offenders can face a $5,000 fine or up to two years imprisonment, or both.

Although the ministry and relevant agencies have not yet imposed any fines, they will soon start the compounding system as a deterrent.

Yesterday (March 8), a random check by relevant agencies at business premises in the capital saw nearly 600 health and beauty products taken off the shelves. Some of the items confiscated have been found to be adulterated, and may cause kidney failure, liver damage and heart problems. Adulterated cosmetics, on the other hand, can cause hyper-pigmentation, skin sensitivity as well as skin cancer.

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The Medicines Order 2007 aims to protect consumers from health and beauty products that can harm their health.

Speaking to The Scoop, Ada Rani, an online cosmetics and health supplement reseller said that having the MoH seal of approval has helped provide buyer’s confidence.

“As an online seller, I am very well aware of MoH regulations, hence I have been undergoing the process for each of the products that I sell… Honestly, it’s not that difficult at all,” she said, as long as all the necessary documents are submitted, which can be provided by the product supplier.

She noted that it is becoming a trend for small businesses to become “stockists or agents” for a particular beauty or health product/brand. She encouraged business owners to ask for a checklist from MoH and communicate with their suppliers in order to obtain all the necessary paperwork.

“The officers at MoH have been really helpful,” she said.

Meanwhile, founder of ZahraCallista — who prepares traditional health supplements from home — said that she empathises with business owners who have to go through the process of applying for the MoH permit and licence.

“I wish they would make it more straight forward, but I understand that [the Medicines Order 2007] is for consumer safety and health,” Nizaha Bakar said.

According to Nizaha, she has managed to get approval for most of her health and beauty products, but a few are still pending.  “The ministry should expedite the process so small businesses wont be too affected. After all, we need it to earn an income and for our consumers’ peace of mind.”