Kanebo Cosmetics Inc. continued shipping skin-whitening cosmetics even after its top managers endorsed a decision to recall the products following consumer complaints of white blotches, sources said.
The subsidiary of Kao Corp. delayed halting shipments for almost a week through July 4, when the company announced the recall, a delay that increased the number of people affected, the sources said Monday.
Cosmetics retailers were alerted to the recall only on the day of its announcement.
Kanebo came under fire for its slow response to a dermatologist’s alert in May regarding the blotch problem.
An official of Kanebo’s public relations department acknowledged delaying the halt in shipments. “We feared that if we had stopped shipments, it would have triggered a commotion as information (on the blotches) would leak prematurely and we needed time to establish contact points” for affected consumers, the PR official said.
A senior Consumer Affairs Agency official said the company’s response was tantamount to “relegating consumers’ interests to the back burner.”
On July 4, Kanebo announced the recall of 54 different skin-whiteners. The firm had marketed 4.36 million units, of which 1.25 million were recalled as of Aug. 25. The recall included thousands of products across Asia.
The firm has confirmed that 8,678 users suffered the blotchy problem as of Aug. 25.