The council’s Trading Standards service has launched a crackdown to find and take off the market illegal henna products, following a complaint from a young consumer who suffered skin burns as a result of using a henna product.
Henna is widely used in the Asian community as a traditional way of decorating skin, hair and fingernails particularly around festivals and celebrations. Most henna is perfectly safe if used properly, however, there are a small number of products reaching the market which contain excessive quantities of a chemical, known as PPD (p-Phenylenediamine), which can cause severe allergic reactions.
The Cosmetic Products Safety Regulations 1988 specify that PPD is allowed up to two per cent as a colourant in hair colouring goods, it is forbidden for use in products directly applied to the skin. However, some samples taken in a recent crackdown found some skin products containing this chemical and some hair products containing excessive amounts of PPD. Particular products identified were Rani Kone Black Henna skin product, and Moon Star copper brown and burgundy hair colour dye.
As well as restrictions on content, each henna product, like any other cosmetics should be labelled or supplied with information such as a list of ingredients, batch number, method of use, and appropriate warnings. Many of these products are, for example, not suitable for children under 16 years.
Cllr Mohammed Ashraf, Executive Member with responsibility for Trading Standards, said: “For many communities in Luton, using henna is a tradition that goes back hundreds of years. It is unacceptable that cheap, unsafe henna products can be sold in the town putting people’s health at risk. I would urge anyone buying henna to make sure it is properly marked. If you see anyone selling cheap, poor quality or unlabelled henna products, you should report it to the Citizens Advice helpline on 08454 040506, who will notify Trading Standards.
“If you are a business selling products containing henna and need advice, please call Trading Standards directly on 01582 54 72 62.”
Trading Standards officers are now working to put in place a European wide alert on the products found and will be placing a notification about henna products on the EU Rapid Alert System (RAPEX). For more information about this alert visit http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/dyna/rapex/rapex_archives_en.cfm