Japan firm widens recall after skin stain complaints

Cosmetics maker Kanebo said Tuesday more than 2,000 Japanese had complained about skin discolouring after using its whitening products, as it widened its consumer recall outside Japan.

The company also said it had agreed to pay medical costs for people in Japan who had been left with uneven colouring of their skin, even after they stopped using the products.

Earlier this month the company announced the recall from retailers all over Asia and Britain of a total of 54 containing a substance called 4HPB, a synthetic version developed by Kanebo of a .

Kanebo has recalled a total of 4.36 million products from retailers in Japan plus 450,000 items that had already been sold to consumers.

The firm has so far received 2,250 complaints from domestic consumers about "depigmentation" on their after using creams such as the "Blanchir Superior" brand, a company spokesman said.

The company has agreed to pay the medical costs of affected consumers, the spokesman said, adding that it has not been sued over the case.

The spokesman said it had also received complaints from other countries but "we are still collecting details".

A recall of products on sale abroad that was announced earlier was widened Tuesday to include items already purchased by consumers, the spokesman said, adding the firm was complying with local requirements in all markets.

The affects Japan, Britain and 10 Asian territories: Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Taiwan is the largest overseas market for the products, a Kanebo spokesman said.

Skin whitening products are popular among women all over east Asia, with users seeking lighter tones.

Kanebo is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Kao. The announcement came after the Tokyo stock market closed, where Kao finished the day unchanged at 3,445 yen.

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