…cautions on using cosmetics with mercury over health hazards
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) on Friday said it has discovered a syndicate that specialises in importing banned Crusader soaps containing mercury into the country.
Briefing journalists in Lagos, the Director-General of NAFDAC, Professor Mojisola Adeyeye, revealed that it evacuated three trailer-loads of imported Crusader medicated soap and Mekako soap totalling 4,000 cartons by 12 packs by 12 tablet soap from the syndicate’s warehouse at the trade fair market in Lagos.
According to her, the value of the products is approximately N1 billion.
Adeyeye said a sample of the product was taken to the NAFDAC laboratory for analysis and found to contain heavy metals identified as mercury.
The presence of mercury in cosmetics is of global health concern due to the health hazards it poses to human health and the environment, she said, adding that the syndicate used forged customs documents to import the product into the country.
Adeyeye said: “The investigation and Enforcement, I&E, Directorate of NAFDAC has discovered a syndicate that specialises in importing banned Crusader soaps containing Mercury.
“The syndicate uses forged customs documents to import the product into the country. Further investigation through the Ports shows that the banned Crusader soap was imported seven times in 2021 alone and each consignment is not less than three containers with four thousand, five hundred cartons of the soap. These products have found their way into various supermarkets and cosmetics shops with unsuspecting members of the public patronising them.
“It is to be noted that the successful busting of the warehouse came after three failed attempts, as the cartel using their own informants continuously relocated the consignment of soap to different locations in Lagos to prevent the discovery of the products by the determined team of investigators from NAFDAC investigation and enforcement team.
“The sample of the product was taken to our laboratory for analysis and was found to contain heavy metals identified as mercury. The Crusader soap is falsely labelled, made in England to deceive Nigerians while the actual source is India.
“This act is an outright violation of NAFDAC Acts and a contravention of the Agency’s regulations, including the cosmetic products (prohibition of bleaching agents) regulations 2019. The arrested suspects will be charged in court while a manhunt is currently being intensified to arrest other fleeing members of this deadly syndicate
“The presence of mercury in cosmetics is of global health concern, because of the established and documented health hazards it poses to human health and to the environment.
“The Minamata Convention on Mercury, a World Health Organisation (WHO) project, underscores the gravity of the challenge posed by the use of mercury-containing products.”
Adeyeye, who urged the public not to patronise mercury-containing cosmetics, also highlighted features that should be looked out for when purchasing cosmetics.
She said: “Do not assume a product is good if it comes without labels. Watch out for products from spas and beauty outfits which fall in this category. Do not use products without labels.
“Products may contain mercury, even if it is not listed as an ingredient on the label, especially if it is not registered by NAFDAC.
“Look out for the following on the ingredient list, as it indicates the presence of mercury in the products: Hg (the chemical symbol for mercury). Mercuric iodide, mercuric chloride, mercurous chloride, ammoniated mercury, calomel, Mercurio, amide chloride of mercury, and mercury oxide. Instruction to avoid contact with silver, gold, rubber, aluminium and jewellery.
It is also worthy of note that the general public should take into cognisance that all soaps and detergents are under the Federal Government of Nigeria imports Prohibition List and are therefore banned from importation into the country.”