Standards body impounds substandard cosmetics
Rwanda Bureau of Standards (RBS) yesterday impounded a range of substandard cosmetics in a crackdown on poor quality products market.
The standards body impounded the goods while conducting its market inspection activities around Kigali.
The cosmetics that are normally used by women were tested and found to contain toxic substances especially hydroquinone that is feared to cause skin cancer. Body lotions containing the hazardous chemical are commonly preferred for lightening of the skin.
Director of quality assurance at RBS, Phillip Nzaire, said the seized products proved to contain hydroquinone after laboratory tests.
“The least we can do is the surveillance, try to trace and remove the products from the market,” said Nzaire during the market survey on Wednesday.
Hydroquinone is a strong inhibitor of melanin production and prevents skin from creation of the substance responsible for skin colour. However, the substance reportedly does not bleach but rather whitens the skin.
Skin experts say that long term use of skin whiteners can lead to pigmentation around fingers joints, buttocks, ears and feet mainly the toes.
However, hydroquinone is normally recommended by physicians to whiten some skin patches to be uniform with the rest of the skin
“This is why we say that such products should be sold in pharmacies,” Nzaire said.
He observed that some cosmetic manufacturers indicate that their products do not contain hydroquinone though laboratory tests reveal otherwise, an issue that showed most cosmetic products had been mixed upon importation.
“This means that traders maybe mixing these body lotions,” he said, noting that RBS uses routine surveillance to ensure that substandard products do not reach consumers.
Nevertheless, traders say that they import products without an idea that they contain hydroquinone.
RBS had earlier this year impounded a body lotion labelled ‘Carl Light” imported from the Democratic Republic of Congo that similarly contained the dangerous chemical properties.
“They (RBS) cannot get these products at the border points but confiscate them from our shops. If they knew they were substandard, why didn’t they stop them at the border poins,” wondered Nyiramana Zawadi, a cosmetics dealer in Kigali.
Nyiramana said RBS should help to sensitise traders on substandard products before they impound their products, to avoid unnecessary losses.
RBS earlier this year partnered with the Private Sector Federation to sensitise traders on quality and standards to ensure that they do not trade or import substandard products.
Contact email: dias.nyesiga[at]newtimes.co.rw