The U.K.’s Luton Borough Council’s Trading Standards service—a consumer protection group—has issued a cosmetics safety warning after seizing 640 products that purportedly contained banned or “dangerously high” levels of chemicals such as mercury, arsenic, lead, and p-phenylenediamine. The seized items, which evidently breached European Union (EU) labeling requirements, included hair products and skin-whitening creams, some of which reportedly contained up to 17,700 milligrams per kilo of mercury, a banned ingredient in all cosmetic products in the EU.

The Trading Standards service has asked retailers to check their stock and remove any potentially dangerous cosmetics from sale and said that it intends to continue spot checks on retailers. The agency has also urged retailers to buy beauty products only from reliable suppliers and to avoid cosmetics such as eye liners, lipsticks and mascaras unless they are correctly labeled. See, July 15, 2013.