Procter & Gamble halts SK-II skincare sales in China
Updated: 2006-09-22 15:53

SHANGHAI - US consumer products giant Procter & Gamble Co. has suspended sales of its SK-II skincare line in the Chinese mainland, pending clarification from the quality watchdog over traces of possibly harmful metals.

SK-II believed all its products were safe, but had closed counters selling the beauty line, P&G said in a statement.

"SK-II is taking this action until its compliance with the regulations pertaining to trace levels of chromium and neodymium in cosmetics products sold in China is fully clarified," the statement said.

SK-II products, which include whitening agents, facial creams and sunblocks, sell in 14 countries, including the United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Australia.

P&G this week began to offer refunds to buyers after China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said it had found traces of the metals in the products.

But the company said it had suspended operations at its China refund centres, which have been plagued by public discontent over the speed of the process, offering instead a hotline to handle refund requests.

P&G spokesman Charles Zhang said on Thursday it was too early to estimate the cost of the refunds in China, the company's second-biggest market in terms of sales volume.

Northeast Asia accounted for 4 percent of P&G group sales in fiscal 2006. The company does not break out sales in China.

P&G would continue to sell the products in Japan and South Korea, the company said in a separate statement.

Skin-whitening cosmetics are popular throughout Asia, where many women apply creams hoping for a gleaming porcelain hue.