The move will make the health and personal care provider the first major personal care player in the United States to make such a move and come after considerably pressure from an number of environmental and consumer lobby groups.
The move also builds on a pledge made at the end of 2011 which stated the company would remove a number of potentially harmful chemicals from its eponymous baby care range by the end of 2013.
No more 1,4-dioxane or quaternium-15
This pledge focused on two potentially hazardous chemicals, 1,4-dioxane and quaternium-15, which have already been removed from J&J products sold in most countries worldwide, but not in the United States.
However, the latest announcement will extend the program to phase out these chemicals to the company’s leading brands in the North America market, including Neutrogena, Aveeno and Clean & Clear.
The latest move to remove these ingredients in US formulations has been made in tandem with the launch of the company’s ingredients transparency website, aimed at helping US consumers of J&J products to navigate the formulation labels and know what the ingredients are about.
Greater consumer transparency
The website takes consumers through the company’s five-level safety and testing process, and attempts to bring about greater transparency.
“There’s a public discussion underway about the ingredients in beauty care products, and we think it’s important to be part of that,” said Susan Nettesheim, Vice President of Product Stewardship & Toxicology for Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies.
“We’ve decided to phase-out or reduce certain ingredients that are safe by scientific standards and considered safe by key regulators around the world including the EU, the US and China. We’re doing this because we’re listening to the people who rely on our products, and if they have concerns, we’re committed to addressing them, as long as we can do so safely and effectively."
Cleaning up baby care
In November last year, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics issued a public complaint putting pressure on the baby care giant having found that J&J had removed two potentially hazardous chemicals, 1,4-dioxane and quaternium-15, from products in many countries in Europe, Asia and Africa, but in the US, China and Canada, traces were still present.
In a letter responding to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics at the time, J&J CEO Bill Weldon stated that the company plans to eliminate formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, such as quaternium-15, from hundreds of its baby products in the next two years.
Weldon also stated that J&J was working with its global suppliers to reduce traces of 1,4-dioxane, considered a likely carcinogen, to <1 to 4ppm, with most now meeting this standard. He claimed the goal of this research is to find an alternative to completely remove these ingredients from formulations in the future.