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J&J baby products under question in China

By Katie Bird , 19-Mar-2009
Last updated on 19-Mar-2009 at 19:25 GMT

A number of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) baby bath products are being tested by health authorities in China following allegations they contain carcinogenic chemicals.

A J&J spokesperson confirmed that the Chinese health authorities are testing some of its products and said the company would be co-operating with any requests made.

"We welcome the opportunity to demonstrate the safety of our products," the company said.

Although there has been no ban, local media has reported one of the country’s major supermarkets (Nonggongshang) has removed the products from its shelves.

1-4 dioxane and formaldehyde

The move by the Chinese watchdog is in response to a report published by US group the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, which stated that J&J’s products were among many baby personal care items to contain traces of 1,4 dioxane and formaldehyde.

In the report, CSC claimed that these chemicals are linked to cancer and skin allergies.

However, according to the US cosmetics trade body (PCPC) the levels of the chemicals found by CSC do not pose a threat to human health.

Neither is added to cosmetics products as an ingredient: 1,4 dioxane is produced as a by-product in the manufacture of certain detergent and solvent ingredient; and formaldehyde is released in small concentrations by certain formaldehyde-containing preservatives.

Trace levels are safe

In response the CSC report J&J said: “The trace levels of certain compounds found by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics can result from processes that make our products gentle for babies and safe from bacteria growth.

“The FDA and other government agencies around the world consider these trace levels safe, and all our products meet or exceed the regulatory requirements in every country where they are sold.”

The PCPC released a similar statement and accused CSC of attempting to ‘incite and prey upon parental worries and concerns in order to push a political, legislative and legal agenda’.

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