More than two years ago, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics released the groundbreaking report, No More Toxic Tub, which revealed that popular kids’ bath products – including Johnson’s Baby Shampoo – contained chemicals linked to cancer. They promptly asked Johnson & Johnson to reformulate its iconic baby shampoo and specifically to remove the formaldehyde-releasing chemical, quaternium-15.
Johnson & Johnson indeed stopped using this risky ingredient, but only in some countries (sadly, not the U.S.). According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics:
In July and October 2011, the campaign analyzed the labels of Johnson’s Baby Shampoo sold in 13 countries to see if the products contain quaternium-15, a chemical preservative that kills bacteria by releasing formaldehyde. Formaldehyde was recently listed by the U.S. government as a known human carcinogen. Formaldehyde and quaternium-15 are also potent allergens that can trigger rashes and other skin inflammation problems.
The analysis reveals that Johnson’s Baby Shampoo sold in the United States, Canada, China, Indonesia and Australia contains the formaldehyde preservative quaternium-15, while products sold in the U.K., Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, the Netherlands and Japan contain non-formaldehyde preservatives.
“Clearly there is no need for Johnson & Johnson to continue to expose American, Canadian, and other babies to formaldehyde when it is already using alternatives in other markets. We’re calling on consumers and hospitals to stop buying Johnson’s Baby Shampoo until the company removes quaternium-15 from baby products sold in the U.S., Canada and around the world,” said Lisa Archer, director of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics at the Breast Cancer Fund.
In a surprising turn of events, after Johnson & Johnson received word of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics report, the company released a statement Monday saying it is no longer introducing new products with formaldehyde-releasing preservatives: “We know that some consumers are concerned about formaldehyde, which is why we offer many products without formaldehyde releasing preservatives, and are phasing out these types of preservatives in our baby products worldwide.”
Says Archer: “We’re glad to see that Johnson & Johnson is taking this seriously. This commitment is a big step in the right direction. We look forward to the day when we can tell consumers the company’s entire product line is free of carcinogens and other chemicals of concern.”
Since the original report and after pressure from groups like the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and the American Nurses Association, the company launched a “natural” version of baby shampoo that does not contain chemicals associated with formaldehyde or 1,4 dioxane; however, the company has yet to reformulate its original Johnson’s Baby Shampoo for the U.S. market.
“While it is encouraging to see that Johnson & Johnson has made progress in formulating a safer ‘natural’ version of its iconic baby shampoo, now is the time for the company to rise to the occasion and make the safer products the world market is demanding for all its customers,” says Archer.