J&J comes under pressure over ingredients used in baby care products

By Andrew McDougall

- Last updated on GMT

J&J comes under pressure over ingredients used in baby care products
Baby care product manufacturer Johnson & Johnson has come under pressure from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics over the use of harmful ingredients in its baby shampoo in the US, Canada and China.

Along with health and parents’ groups, the coalition has requested that J&J reformulate the flagship product to remove a chemical that releases formaldehyde, as it already makes a formaldehyde-free version in other countries around the world.

J&J has responded in a company statement saying it is no longer introducing new products with formaldehyde-releasing preservatives and has reduced its use of the chemical by 60 percent in the US market and 33 percent globally over the past few years.

Reduction and reformulation

Additionally, J&J told CosmeticsDesign.com USA: “We have reformulated approximately 70 percent of our baby products with new cleansing formulations that keep trace levels of 1,4 dioxane at below reliably detectable levels.”

“We also have established strict standards to ensure that the amount of 1,4 dioxane in any of our remaining products is kept to extremely low levels that are well below the level that the US Food and Drug Administration and regulatory agencies around the world consider to be safe.”

The chemical preservative under specific scrutiny is quaternium-15, which the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics claims is present in the baby shampoo formulas in the US, Australia, Canada, China and Indonesia, however not in Denmark, Finland, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Sweden and the UK.

Consumer concern over formaldehyde

Formaldehyde was recently added to the US government list of known human carcinogens by the National Toxicology Program, under the Department of Health and Human Services.

"We know that some consumers are concerned about formaldehyde, which is why we offer many products without formaldehyde releasing preservatives, and are phasing out these types of preservatives in our baby products worldwide,"​ said the Johnson & Johnson statement.

The coalition has been in conversation with J&J over the shampoo formulation for over two years, and whilst they are happy with the company’s response to these concerns, it is looking for a solid commitment regarding complete removal by November 15.

Removed for some, why not for all?

In response to consumer demand, J&J launched a new ‘natural’ version of baby shampoo that does not contain chemicals associated with formaldehyde or 1,4-dioxane, and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has asked why the original formulation has not removed the preservatives completely from the US and some Asia-Oceanic versions.

"While it is encouraging to see that Johnson & Johnson has made progress in formulating a safer ‘natural' version of its iconic baby shampoo, now is the time for the company to rise to the occasion and make the safer products the world market is demanding for all its customers,"​ said Lisa Archer, director of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

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