FOCUS-Skin whitening creams remain online despite mercury findings


2020/07/11 15:15  路透社
By Martinne Geller
   LONDON, July 10 (Reuters) - Skin-whitening creams identified as containing potentially dangerous levels of mercury continue to be sold online more than seven months after a watchdog group raised the alarm, including on platforms run by eBay , and Alibaba , a Reuters review of the sites shows.
   The findings come at a time when skin lightening, a multi-billion dollar industry especially popular in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean, is under renewed criticism for promoting light skin as a beauty ideal.
   Many countries ban or restrict mercury in creams, which can damage the kidneys, brain and nervous system. An international ban on manufacturing products with mercury in them comes into effect at end-2020.
   The Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG), an international coalition of non-governmental organizations, issued a report last November that found unacceptable levels of mercury in 95 skin-lightening creams out of 158 samples tested.
   The tests looked for concentrations of mercury above 1 part per million, the level set in a 2017 global treaty, and found levels ranging from 1.9 to 131,000 ppm.
   Reuters didn't independently confirm the levels of mercury found in the brands cited by ZMWG.
   The samples were sold under more than 20 brand names, mostly by smaller manufacturers in developing countries that had been flagged by governments or in previous testing.
   Major global brands from the likes of Unilever   , L'Oreal and Procter & Gamble were not flagged and were not included.
   ZMWG bought more than two-thirds of the creams online, including on Flipkart, majority-owned by Walmart ; South Africa's Bidorbuy; Nigeria's Jumia ; and Lazada and Daraz, which are both part of the Alibaba Group and operate in Southeast and South Asia, respectively, as well as on Amazon and eBay, the coalition said.
   One month after its report came out, ZMWG said that eBay, Lazada and Daraz had pledged to remove its high-mercury product listings but had not done so, while Amazon removed products from its U.S. and EU platforms, but not in India.
   Reuters checks in late June showed at least 19 listings of the products on different country sites run by all seven e-commerce platforms, however.
   After Reuters raised the issue, the platforms scrapped most of the specific listings or promised to do so. But as of July 10, brands cited by ZMWG continued to pop up, including on Daraz, Amazon, and eBay.
   Goree Cosmetics in Pakistan and Bangkok-based Smilephan, two companies whose name brand products were available on several sites and showed high mercury levels, told Reuters they do not use mercury and warned about counterfeits.
   Smilephan shared with Reuters an ingredient list, test reports from 2019 and 2011 showing no mercury in samples, and copies of certifications it said attest to regular audits.
   "We strongly believe those are not our original products," said Songkiat Kulwuthivilas, Smilephan's assistant managing director. The company no longer sells its Pop Popular brand in Africa because of the excess of counterfeits, he said.
   EBay said it would sweep its sites to remove listings and update surveillance filters imposed in December that had already blocked 250 listings.
   "We comply with local restrictions and also we have a long history of partnering with rights owners, industry groups and law enforcement," eBay spokeswoman Ashley Settle said.
   Daraz told Reuters it would to take "necessary action" if the listings were found to violate its policies or harm customers.
   An Amazon spokeswoman in India said the company was investigating, but that on its 'marketplace,' responsibility rests solely with the seller.
   A California judge in 2019 ruled that Amazon was immune from liability for third-party sellers in a case involving warnings about mercury in skin-lightening creams.
   "Most people buying on Amazon have no idea that Amazon isn't anything like walking down to your grocery store," said food safety lawyer Bill Marler.

(Reporting by Martinne Geller in London; Additional reporting
by Siddharth Cavale in Bengaluru, Alexis Akwagyiram in Lagos,
Ayenat Mersie in Nairobi and Promit Mukherjee in Johannesburg
Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)
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Reuters Messaging:
马丁尼·盖勒(Martinne Geller)著
这些测试寻找的汞浓度超过百万分之1,这是2017年全球条约中设定的水平,发现汞的浓度在1.9至131,000 ppm之间。
该联盟表示,ZMWG超过三分之二的面霜是在网上购买的,包括沃尔玛(Walmart)持有多数股权的Flipkart、南非的BidorBuy、尼日利亚的Jumia,以及分别在东南亚和南亚运营的阿里巴巴集团(Alibaba Group)旗下的Lazada和Daraz,以及亚马逊(Amazon)和eBay。
巴基斯坦的Goree Cosmetics和总部位于曼谷的Smilephan这两家公司告诉路透社,他们不使用汞,并警告要注意假冒产品。这两家公司的名牌产品在几个网站上都可以买到,而且汞含量很高。
“我们坚信这些不是我们的原创产品,”Smilephan的助理董事总经理Songkiat Kulwuthivilas说。他说,由于假货过剩,该公司不再在非洲销售其流行品牌Pop。
eBay发言人阿什利·赛特(Ashley Setter)表示:“我们遵守当地的限制,我们与版权所有者、行业团体和执法部门合作的历史也很长。”
食品安全律师比尔·马勒(Bill Marler)说:“大多数在亚马逊上购物的人根本不知道亚马逊和你去杂货店的感觉完全不同。”

(Martinne Geller伦敦报道;补充报道
西德哈斯·卡瓦莱(Siddharth Cavale)在孟加拉国,亚历克西斯·阿克瓦吉拉姆(Alexis Akwagyi Ram)在拉各斯
Ayenat Mersie在内罗毕和Promit Mukherjee在约翰内斯堡
编辑:Sonya Hepinstall)


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