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J&J under fire from 170 nonprofits to halt baby powder sales worldwide because it contains asbestos

Published on 09/07/20 at 12:10pm

In the latest chapter in Johnson & Johnson’s talc-related woes, the company is being pressured by group of over 170 nonprofit organisations to stop the worldwide sale of the it’s talc-based baby powder on the allegation it contains the carcinogenic mineral asbestos.

The group includes a range of activist groups and educational institutions, including Greenpeace and Black Women for Wellness. The Executive Director of the latter organisation, Janette Robinson Flint, made a statement calling out a message from J&J in June amidst heightened racial tensions in the US, which said the company was committed to fighting racial injustice and inequality.

Flint argued that the company’s continued sale of its baby powder in markets across the world, often to black and brown consumers, undermined and contradicted this message.

J&J has faced pressure over the health implications of using its talc products before. In 2018, Reuters reported that the company was aware that its baby powder product contained asbestos, and it had known for decades, and it has been in a constant legal battle over past years to settle thousands of lawsuits claiming that use of the product had caused cancer in consumers.

In May the company said it would pull the product from the US and Canadian markets, but this decision was due to a fall in demand in those regions due to “misinformation” around the product’s safety, rather than for actual safety reasons.

The company said in response to the renewed allegations: “Decades of independent scientific studies by medical experts around the world support the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder. We continue to offer this product in many other regions around the world where there is higher consumer demand.”

Matt Fellows

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