Johnson & Johnson to stop global sales of talc-based baby powder

By Alessandro Carrara | Published: 12-Aug-2022

The move marks the end of an era for J&J, with its baby powder being an iconic symbol for the brand since its launch in the US in 1894

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) will stop all global sales of its iconic talc-based baby powder in 2023, following years of allegations that the product contained harmful substances.

The personal care goliath will transition to an all cornstarch-based baby powder portfolio instead, following an assessment of its worldwide product range.

The company said its new cornstarch-based baby powder is already sold in countries around the world, and added this was the best decision for its “long-term growth”.

“This transition will help simplify our product offerings, deliver sustainable innovation, and meet the needs of our consumers, customers and evolving global trends,” a spokesperson for J&J said.

J&J has been embroiled in controversy over allegations that its cosmetic talc contained asbestos and caused ovarian cancer and mesothelioma.

Two years ago the healthcare giant halted all sales of the baby powder in North America over the health-related claims, but continued to sell the product internationally.

However, in February 2022 J&J was faced with an attempt to force shareholders to vote to withdraw its talc from store shelves globally.

Tulipshare, a UK investment platform which allows customers to pool shares in order to meet the threshold to submit resolutions for shareholder votes, submitted a proposal to J&J demanding the termination of global sales of the company’s talc-based powder.

J&J has vigorously denied that any of the talc-related claims against it have any merit.

It reiterated its stance on the matter along with its announcement on the baby powder portfolio overhaul.

“Our position on the safety of our cosmetic talc remains unchanged,” the spokesperson added.

“We stand firmly behind the decades of independent scientific analysis by medical experts around the world that confirms talc-based Johnson's Baby Powder is safe, does not contain asbestos, and does not cause cancer."

A new era

In a surprise move, J&J launched its new baby care brand Vivvi & Bloom in July, amid a bevy of lawsuits regarding the allegation against its cosmetic talc.

In what appeared to be an effort to quell consumer worries surrounding its products, J&J emphasised that its baby brand was certified by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

EWG is an American activist group that launched in 1993 that assesses the chemicals found within consumer products in the cosmetics and agricultural sectors.

"The Environmental Working Group is widely recognised as a trusted and rigorous evaluator of personal care products," said Emily Spilman, EWG's Healthy Living Science Analyst at the time.

"We're pleased to verify all five Vivvi & Bloom products.

“Parents who see the EWG Verified mark can trust Vivvi & Bloom meets our strictest standards for health and transparency."

Vivvi & Bloom is being marketed towards Gen Z and millennial parents in America and debuts with a line-up of five products.

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