Johnson & Johnson Recalls Baby Powder After Traces of Asbestos Found

Containers of Johnson's baby powder made by Johnson and Johnson are displayed on a shelf

The move marks the first time the company has recalled its baby powder for possible asbestos contamination, and the first time USA regulators have announced a finding of asbestos in a J&J powder.

The body cannot break down these fibers once they are stuck, which is why exposure to asbestos can cause serious health issues including asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma, the university states. It added that it could not confirm whether the tested product was authentic or counterfeit.

But a Reuters investigation published previous year suggested that that wasn't always the case - and the company knew.

But the recall comes as J&J fights thousands of lawsuits in which plaintiffs claim its iconic baby powder was contaminated with asbestos and that it caused ovarian cancer or another rare cancer.

Since 2003, talc in Johnson's Baby Powder sold in the United States has come from China through supplier Imerys Talc America, a unit of Paris-based Imerys SA and a co-defendant in much of the talc litigation. Imerys and J&J said the Chinese talc is safe.


Johnson & Johnson is recalling one lot of its Johnson's Baby Powder after tiny amounts of asbestos contamination were found in samples from a single bottle purchased online. The findings of the investigation stated that Baby Powder periodically tested positive for tiny amounts of asbestos between 1971 and the early 2000s.

J&J also said that independent laboratories have tested the company's talc and confirmed that it is asbestos-free. That could cost the company billions of dollars in settlement costs.

J&J, which is facing thousands of lawsuits related to products containing talc, said in a statement: "Thousands of tests over the past 40 years repeatedly confirm that our consumer talc products do not contain asbestos". The lot number can be found on the back of the bottle, directly underneath the cap.

J&J says in its earnings releases - including its third-quarter results reported earlier this month - that it will not provide earnings guidance "because the company is unable to predict with reasonable certainty the ultimate outcome of legal proceedings". While talc products contributed about US$420 million to J&J's US$76.5-billion in revenue in 2017, Baby Powder is considered an essential facet of the conglomerate's carefully tended image as a caring company.

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