A fortnight ago, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics issued a public complaint putting pressure on the baby care giant having found that J&J had removed two potentially hazardous chemicals, 1,4-dioxane, and quaternium-15, from products in many countries in Europe, Asia and Africa, but in the US, China and Canada, traces were still present.
In a letter responding to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, J&J CEO Bill Weldon stated that the company plans to eliminate formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, such as quaternium-15, from hundreds of its baby products in the next two years.
“[J&J has begun providing] alternatives to formaldehyde-releasing preservatives and expect [sic] to finish this process in our hundreds of baby products around the world within about two years, and sooner for our baby shampoos," he said.
Weldon claimed the company is making the efforts, but explained it is doing so even though the trace levels of the ingredients pose little risk.
“Our standards assume repeated exposures, which is why we set very conservative limits when formulating our baby products,” he explained.
“The level of exposure to formaldehyde, released in tiny amounts by certain preservatives to keep the products safe from contamination by bacteria, is about the same in an entire bottle of baby shampoo as a person would be exposed to by eating an apple or pear, in which it occurs naturally.”
Weldon also said that J&J is working with its global suppliers to reduce traces of 1,4-dioxane, considered a likely carcinogen, to <1 to 4ppm, with most now meeting this standard. He claimed the goal of this research is to find an alternative to completely remove these ingredients from formulations in the future.
Spokeswoman for the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, Stacy Malkan, commented that this was an important step forward in formulating personal care products but stressed we are still waiting for the day when all products are free of carcinogens and other chemicals of concern.
Malkan took to social micro-blogging site Twitter to announce the news stating: “Huge victory! Amid activist push, J&J starts removing toxic chemicals from baby products.”