Two more products have been taken off the shelves for being contaminated with mercury, raising the number of products adulterated with undeclared substances to eight in the last two weeks. 

The two products — Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene and Goree Day & Night Whitening Cream Oil Free — are manufactured by H Pharmacy Pakistan.

Mercury is a potent ingredient that is prohibited in cosmetic products due to its hazardous effect on human health, said the Ministry of Health in a press statement.

“It is readily absorbed through the skin on topical application and tends to accumulate in the body.  Exposure to mercury in cosmetic products can cause skin rashes, memory loss and muscle weakness, while high exposures may result in damage to the brain and kidneys. It is also extremely toxic to unborn children,” the statement added.

Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene manufactured by H Pharmacy Pakistan is adulterated with mercury. Photo: Courtesy of Ministry of Health

The ministry has not issued any approval for the importation of the Goree creams, and the sale of these products is illegal. If found guilty, offenders face up to two years’ jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

During the recent session of the Legislative Council, Minister of Health YB Dato Paduka Dr Hj Md Isham Jaafar said health enforcement is still lacking, as the ministry cracks down on the sale of products that violate the Poison Act and Medicines Order.

Inspections conducted on 471 business premises last year saw over 10,000 medicinal, health and beauty products confiscated. 

A total of 1,202 products were prescription-only medicine, 709 were traditional medicines and health supplements, and 501 were cosmetic products.

A total of 8,459 cosmetic products were also sold without the required “cosmetic notification acknowledgement letter”.

The minister said many of these businesses were repeat offenders, and acknowledged the challenges in enforcing the law due to lack of well-trained staff.

“In an effort to enhance and strengthen law enforcement in the ministry, we constantly look at the current needs and circumstances, including reviewing existing laws and guidelines… as well as working together with other enforcement agencies. This is solely to safeguard the health and well-being of the people of this country.”