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Johnson & Johnson Baby Shampoo will be carcinogen-free, company says

Mechele R. Dillard's picture

Johnson & Johnson commits to removing cancer-causing agents, but has yet to do the same for adult products.

In response to consumer outcry, Johnson & Johnson has started to remove formaldehyde-releasing preservatives from its baby products, including its iconic Johnson & Johnson Baby Shampoo.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC) spurred the demand from consumers that led to J&J promising removal of toxins from its baby products. According to a letter received by CSC from J&J, the company has committed to timelines to reformulate its baby products worldwide and remove cancer-causing agents. The letter, signed by J&J Vice President of Product Stewardship Susan Nettesheim, on behalf of CEO Bill Weldon, indicated that J&J will:

  • Remove quaternium-15 and other formaldehyde-releasing preservatives from all of its baby products worldwide within two years.
  • Reduce 1,4-dioxane in all of its baby products to less than 4 parts per million (ppm). Long term, the company indicated it will replace the chemical process, called ethoxylation, that results in 1,4-dioxane contamination.
  • The company has already removed phthalates—a reproductive toxin—from all its baby products worldwide, including fragrance.

This decision came after the Nov. 1 report by CSC that J&J Baby Shampoo not only contained the cancer-causing agents in the U.S., but that the company sold formaldehyde-free versions of the product in several other countries.

Several other top brands still contain formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, as well as chemicals associated with 1,4-dioxane. According to CSC, these brands include baby wash by Huggies and Grins & Giggles; Baby Magic Baby Lotion; and Sesame Street Bubble Bath.

“Clearly, there is no need to be exposing babies to cancer-causing chemicals in the bathtub. Many companies are already making bath products without carcinogens and that’s what all companies should be doing” said Stacy Malkan, co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and author of the report, “Baby’s Tub is Still Toxic.”

Read: Report claims Johnson & Johnson Baby Shampoo contains carcinogens

But, the CSC and other organizations are recognizing the leadership role that Johnson & Johnson is choosing to take in making baby products safer for babies everywhere.

“We applaud the leadership of Johnson & Johnson for publicly committing to globally reformulate their baby products to remove formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane,” said Janet Nudelman, program director of the Breast Cancer Fund. “Other major baby brands must now follow the lead of Johnson & Johnson and remove carcinogens from their products, too.”

Still, the Johnson & Johnson commitment does not apply to the company’s adult product lines, such as Aveeno and Neutrogena, the CSC points out.

“We look forward to the day when all Johnson & Johnson products are free of carcinogens and other chemicals of concern,” said Malkan.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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