UK's Guardian: Chinese making collagen from dead prisoners' skin

October 4, 2005

London - The Guardian, a British daily newspaper, reported recently that a Chinese cosmetics firm is using skin taken from the corpses of executed convicts to develop beauty products for sale in Europe.

London - The Guardian, a British daily newspaper, reported recently that a Chinese cosmetics firm is using skin taken from the corpses of executed convicts to develop beauty products for sale in Europe.

According to The Guardian, agents for the firm have told customers it is developing collagen from skin taken from prisoners after they have been shot. The agents say some of the company's products have been exported to the United Kingdom, and that the use of skin from condemned convicts is "traditional."

UK medical and political representatives have responded to The Guardian's investigation and subsequent article by noting that, with regulations to control cosmetic treatments such as collagen still years away from being developed, the newspaper's report highlights the dangers faced by the increasing number of Britons and other Europeans wanting to improve their looks. Apart from the ethical concerns, say doctors and politicians, there is also the potential risk of infection.

The Guardian article stated that it is unclear whether any of the aesthetic fillers available in the UK or on the Internet are supplied by the Chinese company, which, according to the article, cannot be identified due to legal implications. It is also unclear whether collagen made from prisoners' skin is in the research stage or is actually in production, the article said. However, the newspaper's investigation did uncover the fact that the company has exported collagen products to the UK in the past, as well as to the United States and other countries.

The Guardian reported that an agent for the Chinese company told customers it also was trying to develop fillers using tissue from aborted fetuses. The paper reported that when this agent was approached by The Guardian, he denied the company was using skin harvested from executed prisoners. However, said the article, the same agent had already admitted the company was developing collagen in this manner during conversations with a researcher posing as a Hong Kong businessman.