Illegal skin lightening creams seized at Gatwick Airport

A quarter of a tonne of dangerous skin lightening creams were seized at Gatwick Airport in August


Release date: 30 August 2019

A quarter of a tonne of dangerous skin lightening creams were seized at Gatwick Airport in August.

The cosmetics were identified by the UK Border Force after arriving on a flight from Cameroon. They were described as “personal effects” to try and avoid detection.

West Sussex Trading Standards officers attended and sent samples for safety testing.

Results showed that three of the products contained the potentially carcinogenic substance hydroquinone.

All the products seized were incorrectly labelled. None of the products could be legally sold in the UK.

Investigations are continuing to find out whether the importer is already known to their local Trading Standards service.

Peter Aston, Trading Standards Team Manager, said: “This is the second seizure of illegal skin lightening creams from Cameroon which may suggest an increase in importation of these products from the country into the UK.

“We are actively engaged in border controls which includes identifying consignments for importers who have previously imported unsafe or non-compliant goods before.”

Deborah Urquhart, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “These cosmetics have the potential to be very harmful. Hydroquinone is banned in all cosmetics sold to consumers in the UK because of its links to causing cancer and it is therefore vitally important that we stop illegal products containing this substance from entering the country.”

If you have been supplied with a skin lightening cream that lists hydroquinone, corticosteroids or mercury in the ingredients, or if it doesn't come with a list of ingredients, tell us via Trading Standards online or by calling Citizens Advice on 03454 040506.

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