TAIPEI, Taiwan - Food and Drug Administration (FDA) official Yeh Meng-yi said that the FDA will ban the use of the additive coal tar in cosmetics starting from Jan. 1, 2015, noting that using products containing coal tar for a long period of time might cause cancer.
Yeh said that the FDA drafted a policy stating that all cosmetic products containing coal tar can no longer be imported, made, sold, or provided to the public or displayed on shelves after Jan. 1, 2015.
According to Yeh, coal tar is considered a medicinal ingredient used in products marketing to people suffering from psoriasis, eczema and itchy skin. The additive coal tar is said to reduce itchiness and inflammation.
Yeh said that the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have banned the use of coal tar in cosmetics. In the United States, only doctors may prescribe medications containing the additive coal tar, according to Yeh.
Yeh said that while the additive is not authorised in medical cosmetics, coal tar is not listed as one of the banned additives in Taiwan. Yeh said that some producers have taken advantage of this loophole and used coal tar in shampoo or cosmetic products advertised as anti-dandruff and itch relieving.
Yen Tsung-hai, a toxicologist at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, said that coal tar is used in cosmetics for artificial colouring. Coal tar can also be found in anti-wrinkle products, according to Yeh.
According to Yeh, research shows that coal tar's metabolite, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, is carcinogenic. Yeh said that using products containing coal tar daily might cause cancer.
The FDA held two conferences discussing the ban of coal tar with experts and scholars respectively this year and last year. Yeh said that a consensus was reached concerning the prohibition of coal tar in cosmetic products during the two conferences.
Yeh said that if there is no objection during the seven-day period after yesterday's announcement, the ban of coal tar is slated to take effect in 2015. Yeh noted that if manufacturers still use coal tar in cosmetic products after the ban is in place, violators will be sentenced to a less than one-year prison term or a NT$600,000 (S$25, 240) to NT$25 million fine.