Chinese chain pulls Johnson & Johnson products in chemical debate

Shanghai-based Nonggongshan Supermarkets Corp., which operates 3,500 stores in eastern China, pulled the products in response to a debate over safety related to dioxane and formaldehyde content.

04/15/2009


Beijing -- A major Chinese supermarket chain pulled baby products made by U.S.-based health care giant Johnson & Johnson from its shelves following allegations that the products contain carcinogens.
Shanghai-based Nonggongshan Supermarkets Corp., which operates 3,500 stores in eastern China, pulled the products in response to a debate over the products' safety.
Many Chinese have expressed concern on the Internet since the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics , a non-profit U.S. organization, issued an online report on March 12, saying it had found "dozens of top-selling children's bath products are contaminated with the cancer-causing chemicals formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane."

The organization said it tested 48 products from 22 companies for 1,4-dioxane, which is used as a solvent in chemical manufacturing. It also tested 28 of those products for formaldehyde.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics report said 17 of the products tested contained both formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane. Two samples of Johnson's Baby Shampoo were tested and both contained formaldehyde at 200 parts per million (ppm) and 210 ppm, respectively. One was also found to contain 1,4 dioxane at 1.1 ppm, it said.
Twenty-three of the 28 products tested contained formaldehyde at levels ranging from 54 to 610 ppm.
Johnson & Johnson 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 ... and all our products meet or exceed the regulatory requirements in every country where they are sold."
It also said: "We want to reassure parents that Johnson's Baby Shampoo and all our baby and kids' products are safe, gentle and mild products that they can trust and use with confidence."
The Personal Care Product Council, a U.S. industry association, said, "The levels of the two chemicals the group reportedly found are considered to be 'trace' or extremely low, are well below established regulatory limits or safety thresholds, and are not a cause for health concern."
Nonetheless, the news aroused anxiety among parents in China, where Johnson & Johnson has introduced a range of baby products, including baby shampoo, lotion, moisturizer and skin wipes.
The tests followed a widely publicized claim by a woman in Chengdu that her 1-year-old baby developed a rash after exposure to Johnson & Johnson's Baby Bedtime Oil.
– Edited by David Greenfield , editorial director

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