Major Retailers Pull J&J Baby Powder After FDA Finds Asbestos
October 25, 2019
Major retailers have stopped selling the 22-ounce bottles of Johnson & Johnson baby powder after last week’s announcement that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found traces of asbestos in one of the containers.
Exposure to asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral and known carcinogen, is the primary cause of malignant mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive cancer with no definitive cure.
Walmart, CVS Pharmacy and Rite Aid were among the many retailers that have pulled the product from shelves as part of the voluntary recall.
“We always put customer safety first and foremost,” Chris Savarese, Rite Aid spokesman told The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com. “Rite Aid informed all stores to pull all products from the shelves. We’ve also applied a point-of-sale system block for this product, to prevent it from being sold.”
All three retailers have continued selling the product in other size containers. A Walmart spokesperson told The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com it pulled only the containers that were part of the 33,000-bottle batch being recalled.
Johnson & Johnson announced the voluntary recall of its iconic baby powder on October 18 after testing by the FDA found traces of asbestos in a bottle purchased recently from an online retailer.
The company said that it was working closely with federal authorities to determine the validity of the test results and the integrity of the tested sample.
FDA testing indicated sub-trace levels of chrysotile asbestos contamination, defined as no greater than 0.00002%, according to the announcement.
The announcement from J&J comes in the wake of a recently published case study that detailed six individuals with mesothelioma whose only known exposure to asbestos involved contaminated talcum powder of various brands.
Minimal Regulation Over Baby Powder
Manufacturers for decades have promised to use talc that is free from detectable levels of asbestos, but concerns continue to persist.
The issue of asbestos contamination in talc stems from the mining process of the two minerals, often found in close proximity on the earth’s surface.
There also is only minimal regulation of the cosmetic industry that uses talcum powder in many products. Traces of asbestos also have been found in children’s toys, crayons and makeup products marketed to teens.
J&J has been inundated with thousands of lawsuits related to products containing talc.
In the announcement Friday, Johnson & Johnson said it has a rigorous testing standard in place to ensure its talc products are safe and that tests over the past 40 years confirm that.
“Our talc comes from ore sources confirmed to meet our stringent specifications that exceed industry standards. Not only do we and our suppliers routinely test to ensure our talc does not contain asbestos, our talc has also been tested and confirmed to be asbestos-free by a range of independent laboratories, universities and global health authorities,” the statement said.
Also Friday, the announcement said that J&J:
- Cannot confirm if cross-contamination of the sample caused a false positive.
- Cannot confirm whether the sample was taken from a bottle with an intact seal or whether the sample was prepared in a controlled environment.
- Cannot confirm whether the tested product is authentic or counterfeit.
Recall Includes 33,000 Bottles of Johnson’s Baby Powder
The voluntary recall involved a lot (#22318RB) of an estimated 33,000 bottles of Johnson’s Baby Powder shipped within the United States in 2018. There is no mention of the location where it was shipped or which retailer was distributing it.
A spokesperson for the FDA was not available to provide any details.
The company said Friday it was initiating the recall “out of an abundance of caution.”
It also advised to discontinue use of the product if anyone has a bottle of Johnson’s Baby Powder that is part of the specified Lot.
A report by Reuters News Service in 2018 found that Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that trace amounts of asbestos had been found in its Baby Powder but did not report the information to federal regulators or inform the public.
J&J also received federal subpoenas earlier this year related to the safety of its talc-containing products.