Johnson & Johnson recalls baby powder after asbestos traces found

The company will recall 33,000 bottles of baby powder in the United States after the FDA found traces of the carcinogen.

    Johnson & Johnson said it has conducted thousands of tests over the past 40 years that confirm its talc does not contain asbestos [File: Brendan McDermid/Reuters]
    Johnson & Johnson said it has conducted thousands of tests over the past 40 years that confirm its talc does not contain asbestos [File: Brendan McDermid/Reuters]

    Johnson & Johnson has said it is recalling about 33,000 bottles of baby powder in the United States after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - the federal health regulator - found trace amounts of asbestos in samples taken from a bottle purchased online.

    The voluntary recall is limited to one lot of a product called Johnson's Baby Powder that was produced and shipped in the US in 2018, the company said on Friday.

    The company's shares fell 3.6 percent to $131.40 in early New York Stock Exchange trading.

    Johnson & Johnson also said it has started an investigation into the matter and is working with the FDA to determine the integrity of the tested sample as well as the validity of test results.

    A spokesperson for the FDA was not immediately available to comment.

    Reuters news agency on December 14 published a special report detailing that the company knew for decades that cancer-causing asbestos could be found in its talc.

    Johnson & Johnson has repeatedly said that its talc products are safe, and that decades of studies have shown them to be asbestos-free and that they do not cause cancer.

    The FDA test indicated the presence of no greater than 0.00002 percent of chrysotile asbestos in the tested sample, the company said.

    The company's consumer unit said it was too early to confirm whether cross-contamination of the sample had caused a false positive, whether the sample was taken from a bottle with an intact seal or whether the sample was prepared in a controlled environment.

    It also added it could not confirm whether the tested product was authentic or counterfeit.

    Johnson & Johnson said its has conducted thousands of tests over the past 40 years that confirm its talc does not contain asbestos.

    Johnson & Johnson said in regulatory filings that it faces litigation from 15,500 plaintiffs related to its body powders containing talc.

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency