KUALA LUMPUR: A consumer group has called on the public to avoid buying and consuming everyday products containing five ingredients which could be harmful to their health.
In an interview with FMT, Persatuan Pengguna Islam Malaysia (PPIM) Lead Activist Nadzim Johan said the five ingredients were benzoyl peroxide, triclosan, sodium fluoride, sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) and hydroquinone.
He explained that benzoyl peroxide was used as a bleaching agent to make flour look very white.
“There are companies which bleach old flour or flour close to expiration, which is darker in colour.
“This is wrong. Countries like China and Indonesia have banned the use of benzoyl peroxide as a bleaching agent, but here it is not banned.”
In the case of triclosan, Nadzim said it was used by a popular toothpaste brand as it provided “24-hour” protection against bacteria.
However, he claimed triclosan, and SLS, commonly found in soaps and shampoos, could have adverse health effects on consumers, with the former said to be a cancer-causing agent.
In the United States, the state of Minnesota banned products containing triclosan, except those which have received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for consumer use.
As for sodium fluoride, Nadzim said it is allowed in permitted amounts, but the problem was in the lack of information available to the public.
“People are not advised as to how much we should consume per day or how much is hazardous to our health.”
He said this meant that the public could not make informed choices.
On hydroquinone, which is commonly used in skin-whitening products, Nadzim said the ingredient was banned in Malaysia.
However, some irresponsible companies were either not declaring them in products or bringing products containing it into the country.
Nadzim said the health ministry needed to be more proactive in banning ingredients in products which were unnecessary and harmful to the public.
“We should not accept arguments that some ingredients are okay for consumption in small amounts. Why should we be subject to such risks?
“It is not necessary for these ingredients to be in products we use every day. So the government should just ban them.”
He also asked the government to aggressively monitor and enforce the law against those who did not comply with existing regulations.
He also urged members of the public to seek information pertaining to harmful ingredients in everyday products.