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Filipina fined $2k, gets suspended jail term for selling mercury-laden whitener

21 April 2021

By Vir B. Lumicao 

BioClear was found to contain mercury that's up to 18,000 times over the safety level

A Filipina business owner was fined $2,000 and sentenced to a suspended two-month jail term after admitting she supplied a skin whitener with high mercury levels and failed to attach a warning label on the product.

On top of this, Jane G. Erellana was ordered to pay the Hong Kong government $34,477.11 for the cost of laboratory tests on 137 tubes of BioClear that customs and police officers seized from her shop in World-Wide Plaza in Central.


Erellana, 39, appeared before Eastern Magistrate Peter Law for the first time since her arrest on Jul 14 last year when her shop was raided by the authorities.

She faced one count each of “supplying unsafe consumer goods” and “supplying consumer goods which failed to comply with bilingual warning or caution requirement.” Erellana pleaded guilty to both charges.


Her arrest came on the same day that the Centre for Health Protection issued a warning against the use of BioClear, after laboratory tests reportedly showed that the product contained mercury that was 16,471 times the acceptable level.

According to CHP, the Health Department had the product tested after a 37-year-old woman who had used it for around four months developed swelling of both lower limbs and sought help.

Pindutin para sa detalye

Her urine sample showed an elevated mercury level, which was suspected to be related to her use of the product.

"Chronic exposure to mercury can cause damage to the nervous system and kidneys. Symptoms may include tremors, irritability, insomnia, memory deterioration, concentration difficulty, impaired hearing and vision, and change in the taste function. In severe cases, renal failure may occur," the CHP’s statement said.

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In mitigation, Erellana’s lawyer said the defendant had admitted the charges at the first instance and was very sorry for the harm done.

Magistrate Law said the Filipina will not serve her two-month jail sentence unless she commits another offence within a year. But she needed to pay the fine and the cost of testing her products.


The sentencing was delayed for about an hour as the Filipina’s lawyer opposed the move to charge her the testing cost. They eventually relented but haggled with the court to pay with a 30-day check.

The items seized from the defendant's shop in World-Wide Plaza

According to the prosecution, police raided the defendant’s shop in July 2020 after receiving information from the DH about the mercury poisoning case.

Customs officers reportedly checked several shops in various districts but found no other one that sold Bio Clear, apart from the shop in World-Wide Plaza.

Pindutin para sa detalye

On the day of the raid, an undercover customs officer pretended to be a customer and bought a tube of the cream for around $400, the prosecution said. After paying for the product, the officer identified herself then called in other officers.

They arrested Erellana and seized 137 boxes of Bio Clear, which they sent for laboratory testing. The test result on the seized products was released on Aug 17, 2020, and showed the same result as the one previously done by the HA.

Tunghayan ang isa na namang kwentong 

The CHP has advised anyone using the product to stop immediately and consult health  professionals as soon as possible if they feel unwell or are in doubt.


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