More than two years after Johnson & Johnson (J&J) pulled the controversial talc-based baby powder off US and Canadian shelves, it is still supplying the product to South African retailers and has not given an exact date when the product will officially be off the shelves Shelves of the USA is taken shelves.
J&J announced its plans to pull the product off North American shelves in 2020 after saying demand for the product was fueled by what the company calls “misleading talk trial advertising,” causing global confusion and unfounded concerns about caused the safety of Johnson’s Baby talc-based powder.”
The American multinational pharmaceutical and consumer goods giant made another announcement in August 2022 that it would be phasing out its talc-based baby powder product globally in 2023.
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It noted at the time that the group would be transitioning to an all-cornstarch-based formula, but didn’t give a specific production deadline for the talc product.
Moneyweb asked J&J’s SA office when consumers could expect the products to disappear from local shelves, and the group responded that it plans to slow production of the product in the first quarter of next year.
Johnson’s Baby Powder is the largest baby powder brand in the country.
J&J admitted it was still supplying the baby powder to local retailers.
Notably, once J&J discontinues the talc-based baby powder range, South Africans will not benefit from the immediate switch to J&J’s new cornstarch-based range.
“Due to capacity constraints at this time, our corn starch-based powder offering is not expected to be available in South Africa in 2023,” it said.
“Consumers can continue to purchase Johnson’s talc-based baby powders until the product runs out,” it added.
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Previous news reports on J&J show that the company dismissed concerns about its talc-based products either in court or in public as early as 2016.
Despite calling safety concerns about its talc-based products “unfounded” in 2016, the company was ordered to pay $72 million in damages to a woman’s family in the United States after she died of ovarian cancer. In that case, a Missouri state grand jury linked the woman, who had cancer, to the use of J&J’s talc-based Baby Power.
Since then, the company has had to defend its products in thousands of lawsuits — awarding billions in damages — as complainants continue to make claims that J&J’s talc-containing products have been linked to several cases of cancer.
Closer to home, Tiger Brands, a JSE-listed fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) manufacturer, also had to deal with its own baby powder drama this year when it was forced to sell some of its talc-based products under Purity and Elizabeth Anne recall brands.
This comes after traces of asbestos – a known carcinogen – were detected in test samples of its products.
Purity Essentials Baby Powder and Purity & Elizabeth Anne’s Essentials Baby Powder in 100g, 200g and 400g bottle sizes, as well as 400g Purity and Elizabeth Anne’s Fresh Baby Powder were all included in Tiger Brands’ September product recall.
In a trade statement released later this month, Tiger Brands said the precautionary recall is expected to cost the company up to R25 million in product write-offs and logistics costs associated with the recall.
Moneyweb asked Tiger Brands CEO Noel Doyle when the company released its annual results in early December if the group planned to bring back the talc-based product. His response was that there is no real certainty as to when the product will return to store shelves.
“We stopped producing it [its talc baby powder range]and we have not yet made a decision to bring this product back to market,” said Doyle.
He added that the group has no specific timelines for the product’s return, but discontinuing the two affected products is not yet on the table as an option for Tiger Brands.
Unlike J&J, Tiger Brands already has a cornstarch baby powder in stores that offers consumers an alternative in the absence of the talc product.
Despite the negative attention the talc-based product has received in recent years, JSE-listed health retailer Clicks told Moneyweb it hasn’t stopped its customers from buying the products.
Clicks has its own range of baby powders – both talc and a cornstarch offering – under the Made4baby brand and under its own brand. However, it did not directly respond to questions about whether it plans to phase out production of the talc-based product from its lineup given the health concerns surrounding the ingredient.
Instead, Vikash Singh, spokesman for Moneyweb Clicks, said in a statement: “This product recall [by Tiger Brands] does not affect Clicks Made4Baby baby powder. All talc used [our] The range of products has been independently tested and confirmed to be asbestos free.”
“For customers who prefer a talc-free option, Clicks Baby Powder Corn Starch is readily available in 100g and 200g. This product has been specially formulated for babies’ delicate skin to absorb excess moisture, prevent chafing and leave skin dry and comfortable,” added Singh.
Clicks added that there are no product shortages in its stores yet due to the events that have concerned both J&J and Tiger Brands.
Moneyweb reached out to Dis-chem — also a major player in the retail pharmacy space — for comment. However, the JSE-listed group declined to comment.
- This article originally appeared on Moneyweb and is republished here with permission. Read the original here.