Due to declining sales and negative publicity surrounding ovarian cancer and mesothelioma lawsuits, Johnson & Johnson recently announced it will discontinue sales of talc baby powder. Is that the end of the story for J & J’s iconic product?
Hardly. First of all, talc powder has not been recalled by the FDA; stores can continue to sell it until supplies run out. And secondly, the discontinuation only applies to sales in the US and Canada. In much of the rest of the world, the powder, which may be contaminated with carcinogenic asbestos, is widely available. As a result, over 170 organizations from over 50 countries are calling for a global ban on the controversial product.
One such group demanding the global ban on J & J talc powder is the Asbestos Disease and Awareness Organization (ADAO). Asbestos exposure is the leading cause of work-related deaths in the world. Approximately 90,000 people die from asbestos-related diseases globally each year, and an estimated 125 million people worldwide remain at risk of occupational exposure to asbestos. [SOURCE]
Despite this fact, the mineral, which is mined in close proximity to talc mineral, hence the contamination, is not yet banned in the United States.
Another organization calling for a global ban on talc powder is Black Women For Wellness. The non-profit’s executive director, Janette Robinson Flint, said on the ADAO website, “Marketing to African American and Latin[a] women with the continued sales of those same products containing toxic chemicals in international markets with majority Black & Brown women contradicts what they have said and calls into question the sincerity of their statements.”
According to the company’s website, Johnson & Johnson maintains that decades of studies conducted by medical experts across the globe,demonstrates through science, research and clinical evidence “that few ingredients have the same performance, mildness and safety profile as cosmetic talc.”
The company adds, “Today, talc is accepted as safe for use in cosmetic and personal care products throughout the world.”
However, a damning Reuters investigation at the end of 2018 revealed that J & J was aware for decades that some of its batches of talc powder were contaminated asbestos. Moreover, the investigation, through internal J & J memos and documents, proves the company withheld information from regulators and consumers.
According to Reuters, Emory University and Greenpeace are among the organizations calling for the global ban on talc powder, and for the removal of the product from stores immediately in North America.