Government officials yesterday disposed of some 30 tonnes of chemical substances they said Chinese nationals had intended to sell illegally as cosmetics.
Long Sreng, deputy chief of the Interior Ministry’s anti-economic crime department, said authorities seized the chemicals – some of which already were falsely packaged under known brand names – in March during raids on a house and warehouse in Phnom Penh, where the smugglers were storing them.
“They were attempting to mix and produce cosmetics and skin whitening products that did not comply with the standards and were illegal,” he said. “That is very risky to the consumers.”
Police had made no arrests because they had not had arrest warrants for the raid and, besides, the suspects had escaped through the back door, he said.
Following a court order, officials from the Ministries of Interior, Health and Commerce yesterday took the materials to the Boeung Choeung Ek disposal site on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.
There, they burned some and poured others into holes in the ground.
Khlang Samet, chief of the Health Ministry’s Regulation Department, said that consumers who used such products could face serious future health problems like skin cancer.
He said the Ministry of Health required all cosmetic producers to adhere to the ministry’s rules for contents and list them clearly.
In two separate cases in 2010 and 2011, young women died from reactions to skin whitening creams they had applied in preparation for their weddings, he noted.
Such products are smuggled in through illegal border checkpoints, which “are not under our control”, said Loeung Ratha, deputy general director of the Commerce Ministry’s solution and policy department.
“There are 27 illegal checkpoints in just Banteay Meanchey province alone,” he said. “However, we do our best to control those illegal products.”
According to the Ministry of Interior, government seizures since 2009 also have included 37.5 tonnes of expired bird meat, 39 tonnes of Chinese medicine, 1,598 litres of safrole oil, 7,951 fake CDs and DVDs and 2,641 cases of expired wine.