TRADING Standards officer have issued a warning to shopkeepers after almost 600 packets of potentially dangerous skin cream were seized from shops across Wycombe, Chesham and Aylesbury.

Many of these skin lightening cream packs contained mercury and all broke labelling regulations, said officers.

They were seized from 10 small grocery shops across the area.

Trading Standards Team Leader Gina Green said under the 2008 Cosmetics Products (Safety) Regulations mercury was banned in cosmetics, and using creams containing the element could seriously damage kidneys, skin and the nervous system. Test results from the public analyst showed that 17 of the 24 samples contained amounts of mercury between 470 and 15,000 milligrams per kilogram. Regulations only allow trace elements to be present, which are technically unavoidable in good manufacturing practice.

“These amounts are extremely high and potentially very dangerous,” said Gina. It is thought the creams seized were made in Thailand and Pakistan, but the importers are not known and Trading Standards officers at Buckinghamshire County Council are this week investigating how they got into the country.

Gina said: “We are asking shop owners to stop supplying any skin lightening cream that does not have the name and address of an importer or manufacturer in the European Union. “Shop owners are unaware of the dangers of such cosmetics. Most of them say they are selling the products in response to requests for them.”

Martin Phillips, Cabinet Member for Community Engagement, said: 'My concern is about the long-term effects on people who may not be aware that these creams may be harmful if they're used over time. I would urge people to avoid using cosmetics that don't bear the name and address of an importer or manufacturer in the European Union.'

Labelling regulations state that imported products must show details of the importer.

Officers say that among the seized creams that contained mercury were:

Brite Face Cream

Stillmans Skin Bleach Cream

Stillmans Freckle Cream

Due Whitening Cream

Wiana Whitening Cream

Information about the dangers of unsafe skin lightening creams can be found by clicking here.