In the fall of 2011, Johnson & Johnson, makers of all-things baby care related, released a statement that they’d soon be phasing out chemicals in their products. This statement came about after the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics released an analysis of Johnson & Johnson “No More Tears” baby shampoo via a report, Baby’s Tub Is Still Toxic (pdf). This report, along with pressure from consumers and health and environmental groups  to remove a formaldehyde-releasing preservative (quaternium-15) prompted J&J to rethink their formulas. Now, a new statement from the baby company has surfaced, in which they yet again promise to take action. The only difference? This time J&J appears to have a plan and timeline in place. Johnson & Johnson told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview this week that the company is well on track to reformulate all their baby products with safer ingredients, including Johnson’s No More Tears baby shampoo, by the end of 2013.  The same interview notes that J&J intends to reformulate all adult products by the end of 2015.

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Susan Nettesheim, vice president of product stewardship and toxicology for J&J’s consumer health brands states, “We want people to have complete peace of mind when they use our products.” Products in line for new safer formulas include Johnson’s baby lotion and bath products and Desitin for diaper rash, as well as adult skin care brands including Aveeno, Neutrogena, RoC, Clean & Clear and Lubriderm.  This is a lot to get done by 2015. Will J&J get it done? Who knows. On their website, J&J does state that while all the chemcals they’ve been using are “perfectly safe” for humans, in order to placate consumers, they do plan to try and phase out formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, parabens used in kids products but not adult products, and triclosan. They’ll also be reducing, but not getting rid of  traces of 1,4 dioxane. An issue that may or may not be changing is fragrances used in products, because they won’t tell us what’s in them to begin with. There’s also no word on whether or not they will be knocking off animal testing anytime soon. Overall, Nettesheim reports, “Many of our products will be ahead of this 2015 timing.”  That’s good to know, and they deserve props, because as Lisa Archer, campaign director for The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, points out, “This is a good step in the right direction. In terms of the cosmetic giants, Johnson & Johnson is going the furthest of any of them in removing chemicals of concern.

All this said, my opinion is that companies, including Johnson & Johnson, are keen on releasing press releases stating they’re focused on change, but are slow when it comes to actual practices. Personally, I’ll continue to buy safer, non-animal tested brands until I see some significant actions taken by Johnson & Johnson.

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