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Cancer-causing J&J baby powder still sold in SA

small baby is sleeping

J&J still continues to provide its baby powder products to local retailers, years after discontinuing sales in North America after it was ordered to pay $72Million to a woman’s family after she died from ovarian cancer.

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) is still supplying South African retailers with the controversial talc-based baby powder and has not provided a definitive date for when the product will be removed from local shelves.

According to Moneyweb, J&J plans to remove the product from North American shelves in 2020, citing “misleading talc litigation advertising that caused global confusion and unfounded concern about the safety of talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder” as the reason for the decline in demand for the product.

In August 2022, the American multinational pharmaceutical and consumer packaged goods giant announced that it would discontinue its talc-based baby powder product globally in 2023.

It was stated at the time that the group is transitioning to a corn-starch-based formula, but no specific date for ceasing production of the talc product was provided.

When J&J’s South Africa office was asked when consumers could expect the products to be removed from local shelves. The company responded that it planned to reduce production of the product in the first quarter of the following year.

The largest baby powder brand in the country is Johnson’s Baby Powder.

Notably, once J&J discontinues its talc-based baby powder line, South Africans will not be able to immediately switch to the company’s new corn-starch-based line.

Not much space to store

Because we don’t have enough capacity right now, we don’t think our corn-starch-based powder will be available in South Africa in 2023.

Since 2016, J&J has been fighting concerns regarding its talc-based products in court or in the public sphere, as evidenced by previous news articles.

Even though the company said in 2016 that safety concerns about its talc-based products were “unfounded,” it was ordered to pay $72 million to a woman’s family in the U.S. she passed away from cancer of the ovaries. In that case, a jury in the state of Missouri said the woman’s cancer was caused by J&J’s baby powder made with talc.

Since then, the company has been forced to defend its products in tens of thousands of lawsuits, paying out billions of dollars in damages, as complainants continue to assert that J&J talc-containing products are linked to a number of cancer cases.

Tiger Brands’s asbestos laden baby powder

Tiger Brands, a JSE-listed manufacturer of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), was forced to recall some of its talc-based products under the Purity and Elizabeth Anne brands this year as a result of its own baby powder scandal.

This resulted from the discovery of asbestos, a known carcinogen, in product test samples.

READ MORE: ‘Since black women use relaxers more often, they have the highest cancer risk’

In September, Tiger Brands recalled 100g, 200g, and 400g bottles of Purity Essentials Baby Powder, Purity & Elizabeth Anne’s Essentials Baby Powder, and 400g bottles of Purity and Elizabeth Anne’s Fresh Baby Powder.

In a trading statement released at the end of the month, Tiger Brands estimated that the precautionary recall would cost the company up to R25 million in product write-offs and logistics costs.

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