Retailers of a cosmetic product found to contain arsenic have been warned the face a $5000 fine or imprisonment if they do not remove it from their shelves.
The warning came from the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) which has told consumers not to buy or use the product as it presents serious health and safety risks.
“Sellers should stop the sale and distribution of TCM Recipe Licozen Ointment immediately. Offenders may face a penalty fine of up to $5000 and/or imprisonment for a period of up to two years under the Medicines Act if convicted,” the HSA warned in a statement.
“HSA would like to remind sellers to be cautious when sourcing for health products to sell. It is the seller’s responsibility to ensure that the products they sell are safe and adhere to local legislations before they are made available in the market.”
Tests found the TCM Recipe Licozen Ointment to contain “very high levels of arsenic” which is a toxic heavy metal. Long-term exposure to arsenic can cause serious adverse effects.”
A doctor had alerted HSA to the product after a mother reported dramatic improvement in her young child’s chronic eczema shortly after applying TCM Recipe Licozen Ointment that she bought from a retail store in the central part of Singapore.
“The product was advertised on various online platforms supported by numerous testimonials, claiming to be a ‘superior alternative to cure skin disorders’ when other medical treatments fail. It also claimed to be ‘100 per cent safe and natural’ and ‘tested to be steroids-free’ on its website,” said the HSA.
Arsenic can cause skin irritations, contact dermatitis (with symptoms such as skin rashes and blisters) or rashes resulting in skin peeling when applied externally. Widespread, prolonged application and accidental ingestion of products containing high levels of arsenic may increase the chance of arsenic poisoning. Possible symptoms of arsenic poisoning include vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, heart-related problems, breathing difficulties and numbness of the limbs. The risk of experiencing these harmful effects may be higher when used by young children or on broken inflamed skin.
Consumers are warned to destroy the product immediately.
“Be wary of any health products promising miraculous results or make exaggerated claims such as “no side effects” and “100 per cent safe” or produce unexpectedly quick recovery from chronic medical conditions. Such products may also contain undeclared ingredients that are harmful to your health,” said the HSA.
Anyone who comes across the product on sale or supply anywhere can contact the HSA’s Enforcement Branch at tel: 6866-3485 during office hours (Monday to Friday) or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.