Retailers are becoming more aware of the responsibility to have their cosmetic products screened by the Ministry of Health (MoH), a pharmacist at the ministry’s  Cosmetics Unit observed.

According to Hjh Ellys Hj Mohammad, the Pharmaceutical Department now receives an average of 500 products every month to be vetted.

Under the Medicines (Cosmetics) Order 2007, producers and importers of cosmetic products must bring in samples to be screened for harmful ingredients by MoH. Once cleared, the ministry will issue a letter of notification which will allow the items to be sold.

The letter of notification acts as an “upfront declaration of compliance with health regulations”, signifying that the cosmetic product has been checked by MoH and is safe for use.

“Now 10 years down the road [since the ministry first enforced the regulation], we see that business owners are becoming more aware. There has even been an increase in the number of renewals for the notification letters,” Hjh Ellys told The Scoop.

Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene was recently banned by MoH as it was found to be adulterated with mercury. Photo: Ministry of Health

She added that the Pharmaceutical Department updates the list of banned ingredients from time to time, which is why it is imperative for retailers to apply for renewal of their notification letters once it has expired.

“Businesses can apply for a one, two or three-year period for each product notification letter. Once expired, they have to resubmit again,” The health officer said. It takes eight working days for each submission to be processed at a minimal fee of $10 per product.

Hjh Ellys also reminded that it is the responsibility of the business owners to monitor feedback from their consumers and report any adverse effects to the ministry.

In efforts to crackdown on non-complying businesses and ensure public health, the ministry conducted inspections at 471 business premises last year, leading to the confiscation of over 15,000 medicinal, health and beauty products. In an earlier report, the ministry said it will soon start fining errant retailers for failure to comply with the Medicines Order 2007.

This morning, MoH held a briefing for manufacturers and importers of beauty products to raise awareness on the importance of having their goods screened and tested before marketing them to consumers.