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Thursday, July 14, 2016, 18:34

Organic bathing products may cause allergies: Watchdog

By Li Xiange

HONG KONG - Bathing products claimed to be suitable for sensitive skin or contain natural ingredients might include allergy-causing preservatives, the Consumer Council said on Thursday – as it urged the government to regulate the cosmetics trade.

The council tested 60 bathing product samples sold in the city. It found 27 of them to have allergy-inducing preservatives, with the packaging of many of these claiming they are suitable for sensitive skin or contain natural or organic ingredients.

In one of the bathing product samples named Sunflower Refreshing Body Wash – sold in the city’s popular grocery outlet 759 – the council found a large amount of bacteria which exceeded the safety standard by 169 times. The mold and yeast count found in that sample was also 28 times higher than the limit.

The council said if consumers use any products with microbial contamination, they will be exposed to a higher risk of infection of skin, eyes and intimate areas of their bodies.

Two of the seven feminine wash products tested contained the allergy-inducing material MIT, or methylisothiazolinone. The council said the MIT content of the tested samples complied with regulations. But considering the products are to be used in private areas and one product did not show detailed ingredients, the chances of causing skin allergy might be increased, it cautioned.

The council pointed out that consumers should pay special attention to the labels of the bathing products. The council found that 14 products did not list detailed ingredients, three had discrepancies between the label and the data tested, and 13 either had no expiry date or showed no period-after-opening indications.

Consumers who are prone to skin problems should avoid using products containing such allergy-inducing materials, the council said.

Consumers should pay special attention to any abnormal physical reactions after using a product for the first time. If adverse skin reactions occur, they should read the ingredients information on the product label to identify the allergy-causing substances.

The council also urged consumers to purchase products with manufacture and expiry date as well as period-after-opening indications.

Currently there is no regulation on cosmetics in Hong Kong, the council said. Chinese mainland and European Union cosmetics regulations are now being used for reference, the council added.

The council also hoped regulation in the sector could be established soon to better protect consumers' rights.

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