U.S. consumer product giant Johnson & Johnson said Friday that its baby shampoo products are all safe and have met regulatory safety standards after being accused of adding toxic chemicals to products sold in some of its markets.
The company has a unified safety standard for all of its global markets, although the contents of its products may change to comply with domestic habits, said Wu Dong, vice president of the R&D department at Johnson & Johnson's Asia Pacific Innovation Center, in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.
The non-profit U.S. health group Campaign for Safe Cosmetics said earlier this week that Johnson & Johnson's signature baby shampoo sold in several countries, including China and the United States, contains two harmful chemicals: dioxane and quarternium-15, both of which are known carcinogens.
The organization, which has been urging the company to phase out the two chemicals since 2009, said Johnson & Johnson is using "double standards" in different markets.
Wu said that Johnson & Johnson has not changed its baby shampoo formula in the Chinese market.
But he claimed that the limited use of quarternium-15, which acts as a formaldehyde releaser, in health care products is safe, citing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European regulators.
In China, cosmetics and health care products should contain no more than 0.2 percent of quarternium-15, the same standard used by the EU. Neither the U.S. nor China have established or recommended a specific limit on the level of dioxane in cosmetics.
Wu said the amount of quarternium-15 contained in Johnson & Johnson's baby products is far less than the national standard, and the trace level of dioxane content will not harm the users if used "normally" according to the products' instructions.
China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine carried out an inspection on Johnson & Johnson products in 2009 following allegations that the company's bath products contained harmful substances.
The quality check showed that all the tested infant bath products were in line with the country's regulations, although one batch was found to contain a slight amount of dioxane.
According to Wang Meiying, general manager of Johnson & Johnson (China), a local quality watchdog in Shanghai is carrying out quality checks in a Johnson & Johnson's factory, but the inspection results have not yet been released.
China's State Food and Drug Administration said on Friday that in the wake of a recent debate on the safety of infant products, its experts have started to evaluate and monitor possible risks regarding the use of quarternium-15 in cosmetics.
Johnson & Johnson said in an earlier statement that the company is also working to develop different baby product formulae, including ones that contain non-formaldehyde-releasing preservatives.
The Personal Care Product Council, a U.S. industry association, has previously said that the FDA and other authorities throughout the world have "long been aware" that the use of certain raw materials may inadvertently result in the presence of dioxane and formaldehyde at low levels in personal care products.