Johnson & Johnson (J&J) announced on Thursday that it will stop selling talc-containing baby powder worldwide by 2023. The company, which was sued by cancer patients who claimed the talc was contaminated with asbestos, stopped using the ingredient in the United States and Canada two years ago.
J&J maintains that the talc is safe and has been proven by decades of scientific research. It also points to the regulatory approval of the product. Nevertheless, the company is now deciding to switch to baby powder made from cornstarch worldwide.
From research by Reuters in 2018, it turned out that J&J had known for decades that there were potentially carcinogenic traces of asbestos in its talcum powder. The American company is said to have paid scientists to publish positive research about the product.
The talc used by J&J is mined in mines and is often found in the same strata as asbestos. In 2018, the company was ordered to pay billions of dollars to 22 women who say the asbestos in talcum powder has caused them to develop ovarian cancer. There are about 38,000 lawsuits pending against J&J because of the talcum powder.
In 2018, the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) saw no reason to investigate baby powder from J&J. That year, the regulator checked 296 cosmetic products for the presence of asbestos, including ‘body powders’ for babies. Only in a blusher and eyeshadow were traces of asbestos fibers found. The health risk of this was “limited”.