Johnson & Johnson recalls 33,000 talcum powder bottles after asbestos traces found

The multinational corporation says it will conduct an investigation parallel to the one being conducted by US FDA

By DTE Staff
Published: Saturday 19 October 2019

Johnson and Johnson (J&J) recalled 33,000 bottles of one lot of its talcum powder supplied in the United States (US) on October 18, 2019 (local time), as asbestos was found in it.

The US Food and Drug Administration (US-FDA) said in an alert that it had so far tested 50 cosmetic products from 2018 and out of them, two lots of J&J baby powder were tested. One of these two lots (#22318RB) tested positive while the other lot (#00918RA) was found to be negative for asbestos.

The FDA said that consumers having the bottles of this particular lot should immediately stop using it since asbestos is cancer-causing.

“During talc mining, if talc mining sites are not selected carefully and steps are not taken to purify the talc ore sufficiently, the talc may be contaminated with asbestos,” the FDA said.

It clarified that the majority of product samples tested by the FDA did not contain asbestos. The consumers of this bottle can contact J&J for a refund. 

“I understand today’s recall may be concerning to all those individuals who may have used the affected lot of baby powder. The FDA continues to test cosmetic products that contain talc for the presence of asbestos to protect Americans from potential health risks,” Ned Sharpless, acting FDA commissioner, said.

The FDA may issue the full results from this survey, including all tested products having both positive and negative results by the end of the year. The US drug regulator, since it started testing the cosmetic products for asbestos, has so far advised consumers not to use products of Claire’s and Beauty Plus Global.

Meanwhile, J&J put out a statement saying that the FDA investigation had found sub-trace level of chrysotile asbestos contamination in a bottle purchased from an online retailer.

It added that it was voluntary recalling the lot’s products and also initiating a ‘parallel, rigorous investigation’. 

J&J was not sure as to whether cross-contamination of the sample had caused a false-positive, whether the bottle had an authentic seal, and whether the product was genuine and not counterfeit.

“Thousands of tests over the past 40 years repeatedly confirm that our consumer talc products do not contain asbestos. Our talc comes from ore sources confirmed to meet our stringent specifications that exceed industry standards,” J&J claimed.

However, international news agency Reuters, in a detailed investigation held in December last year, had scanned J&J’s internal documents.

It found that J&J was well aware of asbestos contamination in its talcum powder, but did not share the information with drug regulators or the public. 

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