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Hong Kong Customs warns against using unsafe whitening cream

15 July 2020



Hong Kong Customs has warned the public not to use a whitening cream product that could be bought in a shop in Central, because it contains excessive mercury.
Customs has seized 133 pieces of the whitening cream, BioClear, from a retailer in Central. A 39-year-old woman-in-charge was arrested and is now being detained for investigation, a government statement said.

The agency earlier received information from another department about a mercury poisoning case involving a patient using the product. Test results revealed the product’s mercury content was 16,471 parts per million. Based on the hygienic standard for the cosmetic, the product’s mercury exceeded the maximum permitted limit by 16 471 times, in contravention of the Consumer Goods Safety Ordinance (CGSO).



Based on the information, Customs yesterday raided a shop in Central and seized 133 pieces of the whitening cream. Customs officers also checked multiple retail spots in various districts and found no such product for sale so far.

They also issued a prohibition notice on the raided retailer, prohibiting the continued sale of that whitening cream. Customs will arrange testing for the whitening cream.




Mercury is banned from skin products because chronic exposure to it can cause damage to the nervous system and kidneys. Symptoms may include tremors, irritability, insomnia, memory deterioration, concentration difficulty, impaired hearing and vision, and a change in the taste function. In severe cases, kidney failure may occur.

In the statement, Customs reminded members of the public to observe the following tips when purchasing and using beauty products:



  •  Do not buy or use beauty products of unknown composition or from doubtful sources;
  • Stop using the beauty products and seek medical attention immediately if feeling unwell after use; and
  • Purchase beauty products at reputable retail shops.



Customs reminds traders to comply with the statutory requirements of the CGSO to protect the safety of consumers.

Under the CGSO, it is an offense to supply, manufacture or import into Hong Kong consumer goods unless the goods comply with the general safety requirements for consumer goods. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $100,000 and imprisonment for one year on first conviction, and $500,000 and imprisonment for two years on a subsequent conviction.

CALL US!

Customs has been combating consistently the sale of products that fall short of the CGSO. Law enforcement action will be taken immediately if any violation of the CGSO is detected.

Members of the public with information relating to unsafe consumer goods may make a report via Customs' 24-hour hotline 2545 6182 or its dedicated crime-reporting email account (crimereport@customs.gov.hk).




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