Nearly a dozen baby cream brands claiming to have a miraculous effect on certain skin conditions were found to contain hormones that can reduce children’s immunity, according to a report Wednesday by state-owned newspaper China Consumer News, or CCN.
The products were marketed as eczema and dermatitis remedies without any hormones — chemical substances that help regulate various bodily functions, the report said. One popular cream brand, Bangbao, claimed the product contained “plant extract … without any harmful additions” and “effectively relieve rash [symptoms].” Miaojiang Yucao, another brand, promoted the product as a “hormone-free, natural herb ointment.”
Results from an independent lab test by CCN showed that five of the creams named in the report contained hormones harmful to children. Among them were Miaojiang Yucao cream, which contained four kinds of hormones, and Bangbao, which contained one kind. Both products were also being sold on e-commerce platforms like Taobao and JD.com — while the latter has removed them following the news story, they were still available on Taobao by Friday morning.
Sixth Tone’s calls to Miaojiang Yucao and Bangbao — two of the most popular brands on the list — on Thursday and Friday went unanswered.
“Hormones can destroy the normal metabolism of the skin and damage the skin barrier function,” Su Ning — deputy director at the Chinese Academy of Inspection and Quarantine, a public science and technology institute — told CCN. “As a baby’s skin is delicate and sensitive, using hormone-containing products could generate all kinds of allergies and even affect other functions of the body.”
Su emphasized that the products’ advertisements were misleading and that the companies had employed false advertisements and slogans. Bangbao and Miaojiang Yucao, for example, are registered and approved to sell as “sanitation and disinfecting” items by health authorities, meaning the two brands cannot mislead consumers by advertising their products as having medical effects. Chinese law forbids manufacturers from making misleading or deceptive claims regarding the curative effects of their products.
In January, police in the northern city of Tianjin arrested 16 suspects with links to the health product company Quanjian Group accused of false advertising, which may have contributed to the death of a 4-year-old girl.
Consumer protection incidents like these have resulted in dissatisfaction and skepticism among many in China. Survey results released Wednesday showed that nearly all Chinese consumers believed their rights were infringed in 2018, with most violations stemming from vendors’ strict policies, nonconsensual disclosure of consumers’ personal information, and false or misleading advertisements.
Editor: Bibek Bhandari.
(Header image: RF/VCG)