Monday, February 27, 2017


Counterfeiting defined

Counterfeiting is the deliberate, unauthorised imitation or reproduction of a genuine product for the purpose of obtaining financial gain by misleading consumers into believing they are acquiring the genuine product. It is an Intellectual Property (IP) crime.

Counterfeiting affects a wide range of products, across several sectors, including food, toys and pharmaceuticals as well as cosmetics.

All cosmetic products can be counterfeited, from perfumes and make-up, through to personal care products like toothpastes, soaps and sunscreens. Such illegal products can have a serious impact on the health and safety of the consumer.

Correlation tables is a form of counterfeiting specific to perfumes, in which a perfume bearing a name and often even a number is marketed and sold based on the branded perfume which it supposedly resembles.

Risks and consequences

Dissatisfaction with purchased products

Counterfeited goods can have a number of negative impacts on consumers. A counterfeited product may look similar to the genuine article but will not provide the expected level of quality, efficacy or enjoyment. Importantly, it will not have followed the legal requirements for safety and may actually be harmful.

Safety risks 

Critically, counterfeited goods pose safety risks to consumers. Genuine cosmetic products conform to strict laws that ensure they are safe to use. They undergo strict safety assessments, are manufactured under very specific conditions, and European and national systems ensure traceability of each product. Although companies make considerable efforts to combat counterfeiting, it is important to realise that counterfeit products by their nature are not following these safety rules.

Destruction of products

Counterfeited goods may result also in financial loss to consumers, as some EU member states require that they be destroyed and that anyone found purchasing them are fined.

Organised crime and terrorism

Profits made from IP crime are used to fund other serious organised crime such as drug and arms smuggling, people trafficking, identity theft, money-laundering and child pornography. As reported by Interpol, there is even evidence of profits from counterfeiting funding terrorist activity. Purchasing counterfeited goods can contribute to funding criminal activities of this sort.

Economic and societal impact

Counterfeiting also affects societies and economies at large, from loss of tax revenue to IP infringements that discourage research and innovation. To legitimate manufacturers, counterfeited products result in a loss of revenue, which may lead to forced redundancies.

Recognising a counterfeited cosmetic product

Counterfeit cosmetics aim to mirror the originals, often making it difficult to identity them as fake. However, one or more of the following traits can help identify them:
  • Unusually low price
  • Unusual place of sale e.g. market or train station
  • Low-quality packaging e.g. spelling mistakes
  • Differences in product and/or packaging e.g. colour, shape and font size
  • Missing information e.g. batch number, PAO symbol etc.

Protecting consumers from counterfeit cosmetics

The customs authorities of EU Member States are key players in the fight against counterfeiting. But consumers themselves also have an important role to play by avoiding counterfeit cosmetics by buying only from reliable merchants, such as reputable sales points or official websites, and by looking out for traits such as those listed above and reporting any suspicious activity. Further information is available from the European Commission

If consumers suspect that good may be counterfeited, they should be encouraged to contact the brand owner or their national customs authorities.

How industry combats counterfeiting

The cosmetics industry takes the safety of its consumers very seriously and companies collaborate with enforcement agencies and other public bodies in combatting counterfeiting. If you think you may have purchased a fake product, or suspect that sales of a product are not genuine, contact the company concerned. All genuine cosmetic products purchased in the EU will carry the name of the responsible company with an EU contact address, and sometimes a customer care line number to call, on the pack. Alternatively, contact a relevant the anti-counterfeiting body in your country:

Cosmetics - Understanding The Label

Cosmetic products must include information that explains what they are for, how to use them safely, and how to obtain the best result. Specifically, the EU Cosmetics Regulation requires cosmetic products to provide the following information on the label or on the packaging:

  • The name and the address of the company (Responsible Person).
  • An ingredients list, in decreasing order of weight of the ingredients. This is mainly intended for people who have been diagnosed with an allergy so that they may avoid ingredients to which they are allergic. The same ingredient names are used across the European Union and most countries worldwide so people are easily able to identify them.
  • The nominal net.
·         Any warnings that might be necessary on how to use the product safely.
·         A “date of minimum durability” ("best used before the end of") or a “period after opening” to show for how long the product may be kept or used.
·         What the product is (if not obvious from its appearance).
·         A reference (batch number) for product identification.
·         Country of origin (for products imported into the EU).

What appears on the label?

To help you identify how to find this information we have created a visual of a typical cosmetic product label:

Some of the information will be shown by use of a symbol. Most symbols that are used on cosmetics and personal care labelling are the same across the EU so that they are easy to understand and with the added advantage that they do not require translation for every market.

Name and address of the manufacturer or distributor in the EU (Responsible Person) – if you have a question or a problem with a product you should contact the Responsible Person named on the product.


All ingredients used in a cosmetic, toiletry and perfumery product must be listed on the ingredients list. This list is mainly there for people who have been professionally diagnosed with an allergy, so that they can avoid the ingredients to which they are allergic. To avoid these people having to know ingredient names in many different languages, many years ago the industry agreed on a common naming system called the International Nomenclature for Cosmetic Ingredients, or INCI. The same ingredient names are used in every European country and most countries worldwide. Although the names sometimes appear complicated, this is necessary to precisely identify each ingredient and the name is usually simpler than the chemical or botanical name.

An ingredients list should always appear in the same format and use the same conventions:
  • It should be headed by the word INGREDIENTS.
  • Ingredients should be listed in order of weight in the product
  • Ingredient names are from the INCI naming system
  • Perfume mixtures are labelled as "parfum" except for certain specific perfume ingredients which are listed by INCI name
  • Flavours, such as in toothpaste, may be listed as "Aroma"
  • Colours use the Colour Index Number, or CI Number, an international naming system, for example "CI 15580"

For colour cosmetics, such as make-up and lipstick, which come in a range of shades, all of the colours used in the product range are listed together at the end of the list preceded by the "may contain" symbol which is a simple "+/-". Each particular shaded product will use a selection of the colours listed.

Once opened, use within/best before

Any cosmetic product that has a lifespan of less than 30 months must show a "Best before the end of" date. This can be shown using the "egg timer" symbol followed by the date.

For products with a lifespan longer than 30 months, cosmetic products must show a "period after opening" time. That is, the time in months when the product will remain in good condition after the consumer has used the product for the first time. A symbol of an open cream jar is usually used instead of words and the time in months can be inside the symbol or alongside it.

Some products do not require any of these times to be shown because the product will not deteriorate in normal use. Examples are aerosols, which are effectively sealed, perfumes, which have a high alochol content, or single use packs.

Reference to enclosed or attached information (symbol from the Cosmetics Regulation)

This symbol denotes that additional important information is available with the product. It is most often used when there is not enough space on the packaging to show all required information. The symbol is mandatory if the supplied leaflet/label/tape/tag/card contains compulsory information that does not fit on the package.

Nominal net content

It is a legal requirement to state the net contents of a product on the pack; that is, the quantity of product at the time it is filled into the packaging. For cosmetics, it is shown in grams (g) or millilitres (ml) for solids or liquids respectively. A contents declaration is not required for products whose contents are below 5 g or 5 ml, for single use packs such as sachets or capsules, or for free samples. If products are sold as a collection of items, this should be stated; for example, 10 sachets.

The "e" mark must be shown if the product is filled according to the "average fill system" which is defined in weights & measures legislation. So, a typical contents marking for a shampoo would be "200ml e"


The most common symbol seen to reference recycling is the "Green Dot". This is a trademark that shows membership of a specific recycling and recovery scheme to deal with the packaging waste of a company's products. All companies in Europe have a legal obligation to recycle and recover packaging waste, usually via a specialist company.

Different product types

Sunscreen labelling

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. It is an indication of the amount of protection a product provides against UVB light. SPF is an industry initiative that has standardised the way a product’s UVB protection is indicated throughout Europe and much of the rest of the world. An SPF indicates the ability of a sun protection product to filter out UVB rays. An SPF of 15 will filter out approximately 93% of UVB rays and an SPF of 30 will filter out around 96%. An SPF of 15 is seen as the recommended minimum by most health experts.

Also alongside the SPF number there will also be an indication of the type of protection that products give you – i.e. low, medium, high or very high.

The SPF numbers you are most likely to see now are shown in the table below.

We should always choose a sunscreen that provides both UVA and UVB protection.
The way that UVA protection is indicated to the consumer has been harmonised. This appears as the letters “UVA” in a circle. This logo will be used throughout Europe, and consumers will know that their product contains at least the recommended minimum level of UVA protection for a sunscreen.

Hair dye: allergy testing

Some people are allergic to hair dye. Warnings and safety instructions must be provided on the outer pack and on instruction leaflets contained inside hair colourants. The instructions must state that an Allergy Alert Test should be carried out by all users of a product, even if they have previously used hair colour. The instructions must further lay out how to carry out the test, although these instructions may vary between manufacturers.

To find out more about allergy:
Facts about Allergy from the UK Cosmetic, Toiletry & Perfumery Association (CTPA)
Colour Well, Colour Wise - industry’s information website for consumers and professionals

Children and toothpaste: fluoride-based toothpastes

Children’s toothpaste is labelled with a recommended quantity and instructions for use. Swallowing a small amount of toothpaste when brushing is safe.

Fluoride in toothpaste drastically improves dental health, and is safe for use by children. EU Regulation stipulates maximum levels of fluoride that may be used. For children, Member States have issued guidelines for recommended fluoride levels in toothpastes.

Cosmetics - You & Your Products

Benefits of cosmetics

While some people believe that cosmetic and personal care products are a recent invention, discoveries of their use and widespread benefits go back thousands of years.  Today, Europe’s 500 million consumers use them to protect their health, enhance wellbeing and boost their self-esteem.

Functional benefits

Cosmetics contribute to wellbeing and healthy lifestyles. Our hands carry pathogens from contaminated sources; so simple tasks such as washing hands with soap can help prevent serious illness. Indeed, multiple studies have shown that the leading causes of child mortality in developing countries, diarrhoea and respiratory infections, can be prevented by hand washing with soap. The use of toothpaste, particularly when containing fluoride, reduces the prevalence of dental caries. Toothpaste reduces plaque and tartar, which can lead to tooth damage and gum disease. Beyond health, there are economic advantages to dental care: there is strong evidence that the benefits of preventing tooth decay far exceed the costs of treatment. Indeed, if we assume that, without toothpaste, total expenditure on oral health would be 5% higher, the total benefits of using toothpaste (in terms of avoided costs) would be approximately €26.5 billion by 2020.

Exposure to ultraviolet radiation is the only established exogenous causal factor for melanoma, a type of skin cancer that can spread to other organs of the body. Consistent and optimal use of sunscreen may prevent the incidence of melanoma. A study carried out between 1992 and 2006 and reported in ‘Reduced melanoma after regular sunscreen use: randomised trial follow up’ in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (2011) examined the cancer rates of two groups of adults aged between 25 and 75 years old. One used sunscreen daily and the other did so at their discretional frequency. It was found that invasive melanoma was reduced by 75% for approximately 15 years after trial cessation in the group that applied sunscreen daily.

Emotional benefits

Beyond physical health, cosmetics can help to improve our mood, enhance our appearance and boost our self-esteem. They can also help to exhibit personal style and, as such, are an important means of social expression. In a study by FEBEA, over 60% of respondents claimed that cosmetics have a positive impact on well-being, image, self-confidence and mood, with a large proportion (+40%) also identifying benefits in terms of social life, love life, family life, professional life and health.

A study published by IKW, the German Cosmetic, Toiletry, Perfumery and Detergent Association, assessing the self-perception of adolescents and young adults, found that 73% believe body and beauty care is very important in their lives. Moreover, 85% feel safer when they use cosmetics products, and 63% feel more attractive when they do so.

A study by the Renfrew Centre Foundation found that women wear make-up because they like the way it makes them look (48% of respondents), and because cosmetic use makes them feel good (32%). Indeed, multiple studies have found that wearing cosmetics can improve people’s self-confidence and self-image.

The Look Good Feel Better (LGFB) charity is dedicated to improving the self-esteem, confidence and wellbeing of women undergoing cancer treatment and is supported by over 50 leading companies and brands from the cosmetics industry. LGFB helps to improve self-image and appearance through free group and self-help skincare and make-up workshops. The service is available in 26 countries worldwide and over 1.8 million people have been supported since 1989. A major research project by LGFB in the UK during 2012 found that 97% of respondents felt more confident after attending a LGFB workshop and that the effects of this are enduring, with 96% of respondents still feeling more confident three months later (out of 2,000 beneficiaries contacted).

Maintaining and extending benefits of cosmetics

All cosmetic products and their ingredients are governed by the comprehensive and stringent European Cosmetics Regulation to ensure they are safe for use. The Regulation dictates the colours, UV filters and preservatives that are allowed for use in cosmetics, which ingredients are restricted for certain types of use or by percentage, and which may not be used at all. Every cosmetic product must also be assessed for safety by a qualified professional safety assessor and this takes into account how the product is made, how it will be used and by whom.

Furthermore, all cosmetics made available in the EU must display a complete list of ingredients and have the same name in all countries: this helps consumers identify products with ingredients to which they know they are sensitive. The ingredients must comply with European requirements and use the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients, known as INCI. Read about understanding the label for further detail.

Innovation in our industry is never static. Constantly evolving consumer expectations with regards to product attributes and safety means new products or iterations are always in development, increasingly geared towards personalised solutions for individual skin and hair types, for instance.

Innovation to shelf: The story of cosmetic product development

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Malaysia - Turn hygiene into a culture

A health worker fumigating a residential area in Penang. People must take the threat of dengue and Zika seriously. FILE PIC

25 February 2017

KUDOS to the Terengganu Health Department for its proactive approach in containing the spread of dengue and Zika virus by Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes.

But, the war is not over yet and it never will be until the public adopts hygiene as a way of life. The threat will remain, but will be kept at bay through the efforts of health officers who risk themselves being exposed to mosquito bites.

These workers need to react to any signs of the disease before it reaches an outbreak proportion. They have to continue reminding the people to keep themselves and their surroundings clean to maintain good health.

Starting this month, health officers will be mobilised to step up inspections in urban areas that have been identified as breeding grounds for Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes.

Although in the past 65 days, Terengganu had no cases of dengue and Zika infection, the change in climate conditions, from wet to warm, may trigger an explosion in the mosquito population in small pools of water in discarded containers or in stagnant rainwater.

The Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes have a lifespan of about eight days, but their proliferation may cause an outbreak. This disease is life-threatening and the only time control measures such as fumigation can be carried out is when there is a confirmed case of infection.

Terengganu recorded five deaths with 343 dengue cases in January last year (1,935 cases in 2016), which was a 290 per cent increase compared with 92 cases in the same period in 2015. Dengue fatalities in Terengganu continued to increase last year, and by November, the state had registered its 19th case following the death of a 49-year-old woman from Hiliran Binjai, a sub-urban area in Kuala Terengganu.

She was among four who died due to dengue haemorrhagic fever. With no outbreak in the past four months, it could mean that the eggs of the Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes could have been flushed away by the floods during the monsoon season, but some may survive desiccation in concealed containers for several months,

However, State Health Department director Dr Mohamad Omar said while the floods explained why there had been no dengue outbreak for a record period, this did not mean that the mosquito eggs were gone.

Some of the eggs could be trapped in containers and there was no way of controlling the hatching of the larvae, which take less than three days to grow into adult mosquitoes. The authorities will only know if there are dengue and Zika outbreaks when someone is hospitalised and diagnosed with the diseases.
Only then will the Health Department assemble a team to fumigate the area where the victim lives. But, all these costly manoeuvres in organising clean-up exercises and awareness programmes, which involve manpower from the various agencies, can be minimised if people take the threat of dengue and Zika seriously.

Community leaders, especially, can take the lead in organising fortnightly or monthly gotong-royong in areas under their jurisdiction and areas known to record high number of dengue cases with help from local authorities and health officers.

However, it was observed in several campaigns in Kuala Terengganu that some residents became onlookers of clean-up campaigns and “mandors”, while some even took the opportunity to request municipal council workers to clear their clogged drains.

It irked the municipal council workers and health officers who felt ridiculed by the residents, who were mostly from the working class and felt no shame or guilt about the mess they created for others to clean up.

This is the mindset that needs to be changed. It may take a few generations and more deaths before everyone gives priority to prevention than cure. The kindergarten is a good place to inculcate this habit and it must not stop until the child leaves school at 18. The Japanese have done it and they turned hygiene and cleanliness into a culture.

Rosli Zakaria

You can find older posts regarding ASEAN politics and economics news at SBC blog, and older posts regarding health and healthcare at IIMS blog. I thank you.

Vietnam - Government to give youth encephalitis booster shots

A doctor vaccinates a child against Japanese encephalitis in Quảng Trị Province’s Cát Village. The national immunisation programme, in 2017-2018, will give supplemental vaccinations against Japanese encephalitis to children between six and 15 years old.— VNA/VNS Photo Hồ Cầu

February, 25/2017

The national immunisation programme will give supplemental vaccinations against Japanese encephalitis to children between six and 15 years old, who did not receive the vaccine, or were not sure about their vaccination schedule previously, in districts facing high risks of the disease.

The plan will be carried out in 2017-18.

The information was released by associate professor Trần Như Dương, deputy director of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology.

Dương said that Việt Nam saw about 1,000 cases of encephalitis per year, and 10 per cent of them were Japanese encephalitis.

Nearly 60 per cent of the cases were in northern provinces.

Most patients are between one and 10 years old and were unsure if they had received the vaccination or not.

Under the plan, children between six and 15 years old will receive three doses of the vaccine.

The plan will cover several districts in Sơn La, Điện Biên, Lạng Sơn and Bắc Kạn northern provinces, Quảng Trị, Thừa Thiên-Huế, Quảng Nam and Quảng Ngãi central provinces.

The districts had at least one problem related to the disease, including the rate of vaccination against Japanese encephalitis being under 80 per cent, the rate of Japanese encephalitis equal to or more than 1/100,000 residents, and fatalities caused by Japanese encephalitis in two consecutive years.

The national programme will provide vaccinations for about 3.4 million children, who are from one to two years old, per year nationwide.

Experts from the Preventive Medicines Department under the Ministry of Health said that Japanese encephalitis could occur year-round, and the epidemic often occurs in summer months, because mosquitoes can develop during those months.

Anyone who is not vaccinated can suffer from the disease.

Experts warned that to prevent the disease, people should ensure environmental hygiene, clean accommodation, use mosquito nets while sleeping and not let children go near animals.

Experts said that vaccinations were the most effective preventive measure.

But only one dose of the vaccine was not strong enough, so children should receive three basic doses. The first dose is when they are one year old, the second one or two weeks later, and the third one year later. Children should also receive booster injections every four years until they are 15 years old.

You can find older posts regarding ASEAN politics and economics news at SBC blog, and older posts regarding health and healthcare at IIMS blog. I thank you.

Vietnam - APEC members hail health agenda set by Việt Nam

The theme of universal health coverage and sustainable development as well as five priority areas for discussion and action set by Viet Nam were praised by APEC delegates yesterday.— VNA/VNS Photo Doãn Tấn

February, 25/2017

The Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) Health Working Group is meeting in n Nha Trang City, Khánh Hòa Province.

Nguyễn Thị Giáng Hương, Director of the Health Ministry’s International Co-operation Department and Vice President of the APEC Health Working Group 2017, said the five areas prioritised by hosts Viet Nam were: updating progress made towards universal health coverage; intensifying the fight against emerging epidemics and antibiotic resistance; strengthening prevention of non-communicable diseases and paying due attention to the health of senior citizens; ensuring sustainable financial mechanisms to develop healthcare; and inserting healthcare into every development policy while reinforcing multi-sectoral co-operation to achieve goals.

A series of forums on policies for the elderly and prevention of non-communicable diseases and antibiotic resistance were highly valued by other APEC members.

The visiting delegates also spoke highly of Việt Nam’s success in preventing and controlling emerging epidemic diseases like SARS, avian flu A-H5N1 and A-H1N1 and Ebola.

This affirmed the important role played by the country’s health sector in the region, they said.

Việt Nam used the forum to learn from other members’ experiences in launching policies and programmes on aging population, antibiotic resistance and non-communicable diseases.
Yesterday’s forum was held within the framework of the first APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting and related meetings underway in Nha Trang.

You can find older posts regarding ASEAN politics and economics news at SBC blog, and older posts regarding health and healthcare at IIMS blog. I thank you.