Under pressure from consumer groups, Johnson & Johnson has finally begun to purge a potentially harmful chemical from its “No More Tears” baby products.
You’d never knowingly scrub your child’s head with formaldehyde, yet for years a lack of label transparency at Johnson & Johnson has allowed parents to do just that. See, for a long time the brand’s “No More Tears” baby shampoo products contained quaternium-15, a chemical preservative that releases formaldehyde as it ages. Yes, the amount of potential formaldehyde is very small and, yes, Johnson & Johnson claims its safe for human use. But still, if you can make a product as important as baby shampoo without it, why wouldn’t you?
That’s the question asked by thousands of parents who petitioned the company to change its formula. And now, Johnson & Johnson has finally agreed. According to the Environmental Working Group, which led the grassroots effort, the company has altered the formula of about 100 of its baby products to remove the quaternium-15, and reduced levels of 1,4 dioxane, which the federal government suspects to be carcinogenic.
To its credit, Johnson & Johnson also pledged to reformulate more of its wares by next year, including removing or limiting several other toxic chemicals in baby and adult products. Significantly, however, it is stopping short of removing all formaldehyde releasers from adult products. Instead, it said it would “avoid use of formaldehyde releasers in adult products whenever possible.”
Last year, Johnson & Johnson told the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics that it had already removed phthalates, potentially hazardous chemicals already banned in toys and products for babies. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for many other personal care product and toy manufacturers.
Want to learn more about the brand’s efforts to reduce toxic chemicals? There’s a website for that. “Known as Our Safety & Care Commitment, we created a website, www.safetyandcarecommitment.com, dedicated to helping consumers better understand how we ensure the safety of beauty and baby care products and the ingredients that go into them. Consumers can view our ingredient policies and learn about the rigorous scientific standards of our five-level safety assurance process,” states a Johnson & Johnson press release.
NPR.org also has a great chart that breaks down the company’s new policies on baby and beauty products.
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