Today I read a very disturbing report on how Johnson & Johnson is continuing to use dangerous chemicals in their baby shampoo here in the States, but have discontinued it abroad. My first reaction was shock which then turned to outrage. Isn’t Johnson & Johnson based here in the U.S.? Isn’t it an American company? And why then would they be less concerned about our American kids’ safety than those abroad? I just couldn’t believe that this could be true, but after reading the story, it does appear that it’s right on the money. However infuriating, we have American companies who feel like it’s OK to use harmful ingredients in our baby products here while at the same time they are substituting better ingredients abroad.
It all started two years ago when the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics released a report entitled No More Toxic Tub. It exposed the beauty products for kids industry and revealed that many companies, including Johnson & Johnson, were manufacturing baby products with harmful chemicals. These included chemicals known to cause cancer such as quaternium-15. This chemical actually releases formaldehyde which is used to preserve dead bodies and causes cancer. After this report came out, J&J stopped using the ingredient in their baby shampoo, but here’s the catch: not globally. Apparently the babies in Norway, the U.K., Sweden, Japan, Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands were deserving of having this toxic chemical removed from their shampoo. What about the babies in Canada, Australia, Indonesia, China and the United States? Not so lucky. Quaternium-15 is still in the baby shampoo being sold and distributed in all of these countries. This is clearly despicable. They have found a safe alternative and are manufacturing the shampoo without this carcinogen, but for some reason they think it’s fine to keep on selling it in certain parts of the world.
When asked why this is so, Johnson & Johnson gave a very weak answer that they haven’t gotten around to reformulating the U.S. formula. What? That makes no sense as they clearly have another formula that they are selling. They also stammered that they no longer make new products with formaldehyde releasing chemicals. Are we supposed to be impressed by this? Really? No new baby products with this known toxin? Hooray! It is actually infuriating. When polls are conducted amongst the U.S. public, Johnson & Johnson is consistently ranked as one of the most trusted brands. Clearly we all need to do our research and start reading labels.
So what can we do? First of all, we must demand that our cosmetic companies hold our American babies and children in as high regard as international children. The standard of care here should not be any lower than abroad. As consumers we vote with our dollars, so stop buying these products immediately. Tell your friends about it too. This is dangerous stuff that no one should be putting on their baby. Second, look for alternatives. There are lots of small beauty product manufacturers that are making organic skin care products that are safe for babies and kids. Buy and use those products instead. Third, get involved politically to make sure that our government representatives pass stronger laws which prohibit large companies from poisoning our kids in order to make higher profits. It’s just flat out unacceptable. We must hold these companies responsible for their actions since they clearly cannot be left to hold themselves accountable. Go green and spread the word. We will not sit idly by and watch our kids get poisoned.