Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that its tests had found contamination by asbestos in some of Johnson & Johnson’s famous talc powder product commonly called baby powder. The contamination reportedly found by the FDA substantiates claims made by users and advocates for years.
Many consumers have grown to be wary of talc powder products due to the potential risk for asbestos contamination and the risk of cancer that asbestos applied to the body topically could carry. Ignoring the hundreds of lawsuits brought against them by sickened consumers or the questionable internal leak memos indicating that company scientists and executives knew of contamination risks, Johnson & Johnson has continued to claim that their baby powder has always been asbestos-free.
Now, after a new round of testing, they are once again claiming to the public that their baby powder is safe and free from contamination. However, they have already come to the attention of multiple federal agencies and have had to deal with subpoenas as well as lawsuits.
Johnson & Johnson took action to protect itself after FDA claims
You might imagine that a big company hearing about alleged contamination would take action to recall the dangerous product and protect the public. While they certainly took swift action, Johnson & Johnson didn’t act to recall any potentially contaminated products. Instead of worrying about the public, Johnson & Johnson wanted to protect the company’s profits and investors.
As soon as the FDA reported potential asbestos contamination, Johnson & Johnson began a publicity campaign intended to protect its reputation. Specifically, they made public claims about the safety of the product and insisted that independent testing would exonerate their products. Now, testing by two laboratories has shown a lack of contamination in the samples provided for testing.
However, that doesn’t mean the products are safe. There is no standard test to detect asbestos in powder products, so the process may have been different between laboratories. More importantly, asbestos contamination may affect only small portions of the total talc powder processed, with varying levels of contamination in different bottles.
Hundreds of asbestos contamination lawsuits are still in the works
Many people believe that bath and beauty products are subject to intense testing, but all too often, that testing only takes place at the behest of the manufacturer. Companies that cut corners or use minerals from mines with potential contamination could test only talc powder obtained from clean sources in order to avoid uncleanliness of their product.
These most recent test results will not necessarily invalidate any of the pending lawsuits and medical claims made by long-term users of Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder who have since developed cancers linked to asbestos exposure.