With a view to prevent adulteration of cosmetic products, the Maharashtra Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) has decided to urge cosmetic manufacturers to make their products tamper proof by putting a seal on the packaging, the way it is put on pharmaceutical products.
As part of this exercise, FDA headed by Commissioner Dr Pallavi Darade, is planning to organise a seminar of manufacturers of cosmetic products soon. In the seminar, the ill effects of adulterated products will be highlighted, Assistant Commissioner Suhas Mohite told this correspondent.
Although the seal on pharmaceutical products is essential under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, such a seal is not required for the cosmetic products available across the counter.
Since used bottles of cosmetics are easily available, the racket of recycling and refilling these bottles with spurious products goes on rampantly and many beauty parlours too contribute to this clandestine business by making available used bottles, Mohite said, adding, that in fact all used bottles should be destroyed. “Besides there is a possibility of some of the beauty parlours themselves using counterfeit products since gullible customers are anxious only to beautify themselves.”
In a recent case, spurious shampoo and related raw material worth over Rs1 crore was seized after raiding three places in the western suburbs and an FIR (No244/2018) was registered against three accused at Amboli police station in Andheri in North West Mumbai.
During the raid, it was revealed that the spurious shampoo was being refilled in recycled bottles of L’Oréal, at Yamunabai Chawl located at Andheri East. The bottles filled with spurious shampoo worth Rs40 lakh and raw material worth Rs3.38 lakh was seized from this place.
Similarly, in a simultaneous raid on a room at Sethia Nagar, Pol Chawl No.2, Saki Naka, Andheri East, raw material worth Rs90 lakh was sized and one person called Pujari was detained for interrogation. In the third case, the raw material worth Rs4.88 lakh was seized from D’Souza Chawl, located at Vile Parle and one Henry D Souza was detained. The FDA officers also detained one Khingar Ravaria, involved in refilling and repacking the shampoo for selling it online through his trading company “Bio Cosmetics”. The raid was conducted by the officers under the directions of Joint Commissioner Arjun Phadtare.
Ironically the accused D’Souza, was booked after raiding his first floor work shop located at D’ Souza Chawl on 13th September last year and machinery and goods worth Rs18 lakh including empty bottles of L’Oréal Professional hair colour cream, Matrix shampoo, L’Oréal Deactivator, a machine used to churn out liquid shampoo and a stirrer, was seized. The FIR lodged at Vile Parle Police station under section 27(A) of Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, is still pending. Even the accused Khingar Ravaria, engaged in sourcing out semi-finished products like shampoo, cream, ointment, oil and other products of the reputed brand and refilling them, was interrogated earlier.
FDA had recorded nine cases of spurious cosmetics sale in 2016 and seven cases in 2017. They included a seizure of fake cosmetics worth Rs1.8 crore from a shop in Bhuleshwar in South Mumbai. The laboratory analysis of the products showed variation in Potential Hydrogen (PH) levels and hydrogen peroxide could cause mild to severe skin irritation and varying level of hair loss. The “potential hydrogen” describes the acid-alkaline ratio of substances. It’s a scale that ranges from 0 (battery acid) to 7 (water) to 14 (household bleach). To protect our skin, we need just the right balance between acidity and alkalinity (to be exact, it’s 5.5).
Since 2016, L’Oréal itself have seized seven lakh fake units of their brand from the Indian market and has filed cases against counterfeited cosmetic units for Intellectual Property Rights violations with different authorities.
However, the business of recycling goes on. In the process, a recycled bottle of L’Oréal shampoo is bought for Rs3, from four Dharavi-based garbage dealers, who network with beauty parlours to purchase empty bottles. Then the raw material including hydrogen peroxide, fragrance and active ingredients are procured from dealers in Mumbai. Then the shampoo is manufactured and refilled in washed bottles. About 5-10 ml of the original shampoo is added to the top to give an authentic fragrance, before the bottles are resealed and sold to parlours at discounted rates.
The FDA routinely prosecutes the accused spurious cosmetics sale, which attracts fine of Rs50,000, and imprisonment for three years. Yet the clandestine business goes on.