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Lilian sanitary pads will be added to gov’t investigation

Aug 22,2017
The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety announced Monday that it will include the controversial Lilian sanitary pads in its quarterly consumer goods investigation.

Released in 2014, Lilian raised controversy online as many female consumers questioned the product’s safety after experiencing negative effects after use including reduced menstrual bleeding and painful cramps. Some online commenters even complained that their menstrual cycle was interrupted when they were using the product.

Consumers reported that the symptoms improved after they stopped using the product.

Another infuriating point for consumers was that Lilian was a product favored by relatively low-income women, as the brand frequently held buy one get one free promotional events at convenience stores and health & beauty stores.

Every quarter, the ministry runs a quality inspection on selected retail goods to see if they are manufactured abiding to government regulations. Brands that attract public attention are often selected - hence the case for Lilian. The results will come out around late September.

Meanwhile, Lilian’s manufacturer Klean Nara said Monday that it officially requested that the Korea Consumer Agency run a safety verification test on its products on Friday.

“As part of an effort to relieve consumer concerns, we decided to apply for a safety inspection to a credible, state-run institute,” said the company. Klean Nara also disclosed the list of ingredients that go into Lilian on its website.

A pop-up message on Lilian’s official website states: “Lilian is a safe product that passed regulations of the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety. Every material used passed safety tests and every process from development to produce is managed in a clean and safe way.”

However, the problem is that volatile organic compounds, a central issue to the controversy, are not subject to government regulations regarding sanitary pads. Also known as VOCs, they are substances that are naturally released from the product at room temperature.

The issue was first raised in a group session on sanitary products’ safety organized in March. Professor Kim Man-goo of the Agriculture and Life Sciences Department at Kangwon National University announced results of VOC tests on eleven Korean sanitary pads and panty liners.

Two products - one from each category - showed unusually high VOC contents. Kim recently confirmed that both of these products were from Lilian.

Not all VOCs are harmful but those that are can have a long-term impact on the body. Among 200 VOCs detected in the experiment, 20 were toxic substances including benzene.

The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said that they have been conducting relevant research since October.

“If a government wants to regulate a substance, questions like how much is emitted and whether this substance indeed needs to be regulated have to be answered based on qualified experimentation - and this is what the research project is about,” said the ministry spokesman.


BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]