Health: Algeria, alarm over counterfeit sunscreen

No protection from UV rays, harmful to skin

31 May, 11:52

(ANSAmed) - TUNIS, MAY 31 - The issue of counterfeit and therefore potentially harmful sunscreens being sold is taking on the contours of a true emergency in Algeria. As is only natural with the arrival of summertime, sales of this type of product increase and many (attracted by low prices and taken in by deceitful labels) buy them especially in the market stalls along the streets and on the sidewalks - where, however, most of the sunscreens are counterfeit and therefore provide no protection, even putting the health of those using them at risk. Algerian authorities have launched a number of alarms against the problem, which cannot however be dealt with effectively due to the current regulations not requiring (unlike with medicines) that the packaging report the composition of the product, making it easy to sell those entirely lacking in any sort of protection for buyers. The latter are taken in by the fact that these products offer carry the labels of widely known brands, but which have absolutely nothing in common with them. However, the real problem is that these sunscreens, or those claiming to be sunscreens, do not only not offer any protection against UV rays but are also harmful to the skin of those making even occasional use of them. And, understandably, appeals for caution fall on deaf ears if the buyer is impressed by the fact that the product is being offered at a cost which is 5-6 times lower than that of the original. The government is trying to react through its peripheral branches. For example, in Oran products like sunscreens account for 60% of counterfeited goods confiscated by customs officials, with most coming from China. It is an enormous market which sparks greediness in speculators, who of course brush off any qualms over effects to the buyers' health. But Algeria is not equipped to handle such an emergency. One need only think of the numerous small markets of small towns, where itinerant vendors come, set out their wares and sell them without any checks, to then pack up and leave. Laboratories for analysis are especially lacking, the only facilities able to carry out the necessary checks on product quality. More in general, this type of check is not enough, as seen in a survey in which it is claimed that Algeria, along with China and Russia, Russia and China, is the country with the lowest level of anti-counterfeiting measures. The survey's source is a highly reliable one: an agency of the US government, the USTR, tasked with fighting counterfeiting. (ANSAmed).

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