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Retailers face fines for selling Meiyong-branded product

Singapore retailers have been warned to stop selling a Meiyong-branded Taiwanese-made product after mercury and other ingredients were found in a sample.

Retailers – online and offline – who sell the product risk fines of up to $100,000 or three years in jail under the Health Products Act if caught.  

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has alerted the public and retailers not to purchase or use the ‘Meiyong Super Whitening Extra Whitening & Face Lift Advanced Super Revitalizer (Cream) Whitening Formula And Face Lift’ as they were tested to contain high levels of mercury and undeclared potent western medicinal ingredients which included: Hydroquinone, Tretinoin, Triamcinolone acetonide and Betamethasone 17-valerate.

Preliminary investigation by the HSA found consumers in Singapore may have bought the product from local retail outlets or from online platforms.

“The prolonged use of this illegal product, which claims to contain natural ingredients such as seaweed, may lead to serious adverse reactions. Investigations are still ongoing,” the HSA said in a statement.

“Dealers supplying cosmetics products in Singapore are also reminded of their direct responsibility for the safety of their products and should ensure that the cosmetics they supply comply with Singapore’s regulatory requirements. They are required to notify HSA prior to placing them on the market so as to facilitate appropriate follow-up actions if safety concerns arise.”

The HSA warned distributors and retailers of cosmetics products to adhere to the labelling requirements of cosmetic products stipulated under the Health Products (Cosmetic Products – ASEAN Cosmetic Directive) Regulations 2007 and ensure proper labelling for all cosmetic products.

“Labels or labelling statements must include the full list of ingredients in English on the container or package and be clearly legible.”

Mercury is a toxic substance, and is prohibited for use as an ingredient in cosmetic products. It may cause rashes, skin irritation and blotchiness, and can be absorbed through the skin to cause numbness, dizziness and headaches. Chronic exposure to high levels of mercury may also affect the kidneys.

Hydroquinone and tretinoin are potent ingredients used in western prescription medicines for the treatment of skin conditions. Patients using such products need to avoid sun exposure as these ingredients may cause increased sensitivity of the skin to sunlight and cause users to get sunburned more easily. When used inappropriately without medical supervision, hydroquinone can cause changes in skin pigmentation or hypersensitivity reactions, while tretinoin can cause irritation and peeling of the skin

Triamcinolone acetonide and betamethasone 17-valerate are potent steroids which are generally prescribed for inflammatory conditions and should only be used under strict medical supervision, advises the HSA. Adverse effects include hypersensitivity reactions and thinning of the skin. They may also be absorbed into the body to cause adverse effects such as Cushing’s syndrome (characterised by a round face or ‘moon face’ and upper body obesity with thin limbs), obesity and high blood pressure, when applied to large areas or used over a prolonged period.

Members of the public who have purchased or are using these products are advised to:

  • Stop using the products immediately and discard them. If you experience any adverse effects or are concerned about your health after using the affected product, please see a doctor as soon as possible.
  • Consumers should be very cautious when purchasing and using cosmetics products that promise miraculous effects or make exaggerated claims like “super whitening”. You cannot be certain where and how these products were made. They may also contain undeclared ingredients that are harmful to your health.
  • Consumers are advised to purchase cosmetics products with proper labelling and ingredients listing in English, so that they can follow instructions on the correct use of the product and ensure that they are not allergic to any of the ingredients used in the product.
  • Visit the Health Dangers website to learn more about the dangers of buying illegal health products from dubious sources.

The HSA has also asked members of the public who have any information on the sale and supply of these two illegal products or other illegal products to contact its Enforcement Branch on tel: 6866-3485 during office hours (Monday to Friday) or email: hsa_is@hsa.gov.sg.

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