TAIPEI – Taiwan will ban a skin-whitening chemical used by Kanebo Cosmetics Inc. following consumer complaints of white blotches, health authorities said Monday.
Lu Li-fu, spokesman for the Food and Drug Administration in Taiwan’s Ministry of Health and Welfare, said the ban will take effect as soon as this week.
Lu said 47 people have been confirmed as developing symptoms of blotchy skin since Kanebo Taiwan began importing the skin-whitening products from Japan in 2011. The company imported about 280,000 units from Japan before a recall was issued in July.
The recall followed an apology issued by Kanebo Cosmetics in Japan to customers who developed white patches on their skin caused by Kanebo products that use the whitening chemical 4-(4-hydroxyphenyl)-2-butanone, which the company had named Rhododenol.
The ingredient has been an active substance in Kanebo products since 2008. Despite being notified of a dermatological warning about the problem in May, the company waited until June 28 to make a decision on whether to recall its products and did not begin the recall until July 4.Kanebo Taiwan began recalling 19 products containing the chemical on July 5.
Kanebo depends on Taiwan as its biggest overseas market and is ranked among the island’s top five cosmetics brands.
As of Aug. 10, over 63,700 units had been recalled. Consumers opting to keep the products with the blotch-producing substance should stop using them, Lu said.