Johnson & Johnson makes safety commitment, phases out chemicals


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Let’s hear it for safety, transparency and listening to customers. Johnson & Johnson recently announced it would be phasing out certain chemicals from its products, in addition to the launch of its SafetyandCareCommitment.com.

In its announcement, the company said it will be phasing out formaldehyde releasers from all its baby products and in adult products, with the exception of adult products in which alternatives are not feasible or safe.

What are formaldehyde-releasing preservatives? According to Cosmeticsinfo.org, these preservatives “are ingredients that are highly efficient in helping to ensure the safety of products by protecting them against contamination by microorganisms during storage and during continued use by consumers.” These preservatives release formaldehyde in very small amounts over time, which ensures that the level of free formaldehyde is low but sufficient to ensure the absence of microbial growth.

And while Johnson & Johnson says that the small amounts of formaldehyde preservatives in food and personal care products are safe, “we understand that for many of you it’s more than just a question of safety.

“There’s a public discussion under way about the ingredients in beauty care products, and we think it’s important to be part of that,” said Susan Nettesheim, VP product stewardship and toxicology for Johnson & Johnson. “Consumers today expect more information and greater transparency than ever before, and we’re always listening to the people who use our products. On this site, we’ll do our best to explain how we make the choices we make, and to show how our plans incorporate consumers’ feedback. We want all consumers to see for themselves how and why every one of our products can be used with peace of mind.”

Johnson & Johnson has a history of making changes to its products when prompted by consumers. Just last year, the company wrote a letter to Lisa Archer, director of the Breast Cancer Fund’s Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, concerning various ingredients in some of its products:

“Parents can rest assured that every Johnson’s product they use today is safe. But we understand that the bond of trust we have with the people who use our products often means going beyond safety alone. We listen to consumers and respond to their needs and values, and their desire for products that are more sustainable and gentle on both people and the environment. We are continually making changes as we seek the next generation of pure, mild and gentle ingredients that parents can continue to use with complete confidence and peace of mind. Over the years, we have gone beyond considerations of safety alone in introducing a number of changes to Johnson’s baby products that I know you'll be interested in.”

For example, the letter goes on to describe some of the changes it’s made:

• The removal of phthalates, including phthalates in fragrances, from baby products;
• New formulas with alternatives to formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, which the company expected to complete in hundreds of baby products within about two years; and
• Working with global suppliers to require them to use technologies that reduce traces of 1,4-dioxane to 1 to 4 parts per million.

And simply phasing out these ingredients is not enough for Johnson & Johnson. The company has unveiled its website SafetyandCareCommitment.com, which shares the following with its customers:

• How ingredients are selected and evaluated;

• Details on the company’s safety assurance process and commitment to sustainability; and

• Over time, consumer feedback, the latest science, new regulations and new information about the company’s policies.