J&J Recalls Baby Powder After Trace Asbestos Found in Bottle

(AP/Reuters) -
johnson & johnson baby powder recall
(Johnson & Johnson via AP)

Johnson & Johnson recalled a single batch of its baby powder as a precaution after government testing found trace amounts of asbestos in one bottle bought online.

The recalled lot covers 33,000 bottles, which were distributed last year.

J&J said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found minuscule amounts of asbestos in one bottle during routine testing and notified the company. J&J said it immediately began investigating with the FDA.

“The FDA’s testing on prior occasions, and as recently as last month, found no asbestos,” said spokesman Ernie Knewitz.

J&J said it was checking where the bottles were shipped, if the tested bottle is counterfeit or authentic and whether the sample might have been contaminated during testing.

The recall comes as J&J fights thousands of lawsuits in which plaintiffs claim its iconic baby talcum powder was contaminated with asbestos and that it caused certain cancers or mesothelioma, a rare cancer linked to inhaling asbestos fibers.

At multiple trials, J&J’s expert witnesses have testified asbestos hasn’t been detected in the talc in its baby powder in thousands of tests over the last 40 years. Several juries have reached multimillion-dollar verdicts against the company, nearly all of which are being appealed or have been overturned on appeal.

Talc, the softest of minerals, is mined from deposits around the world, which can be contaminated with asbestos. J&J says the company and its talc suppliers routinely test their talc to ensure there’s no asbestos. The talc is then crushed into a white powder and purified for use in personal-care products to absorb moisture.

The recalled lot of 22-ounce bottles is #22318RB. Consumers who have a bottle from that lot should stop using it; refunds are available at www.jnj.com/johnson-johnson-consumer-inc-to-voluntarily-recall-a-single-lot-of-johnsons-baby-powder-in-the-united-states

On Thursday, CVS Health Corp said it is pulling all 22 ounce bottles of Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder from its stores and online out of caution and to prevent customer confusion.

Commenting on CVS’s move, J&J spokesman Ernie Knewitz said, “It’s temporary … They are doing it storewide because they don’t have the resources to go through at the store level and check all the SKUs (stock keeping units), check all the lot numbers.”

Customers who purchased the product from CVS Pharmacy should discontinue use, and can return it for a refund, the pharmacy chain said.