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Johnson & Johnson to Remove Formaldehyde, Other Chemicals from Products

Johnson & Johnson, owner of personal care brands Aveeno, Neutrogena and Clean & Clear, says it will remove a number of potentially harmful chemicals, including formaldehyde, from its line of adult consumer products by the end of 2015.

The company already pledged last November to remove specific chemicals from its baby products, such as Johnson baby shampoo, by 2013.

J&J will phase out formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, which release tiny amounts of methylene glycol, as well as triclosan, a commonly used antibacterial ingredient, and 1,4 dioxane, a trace material that’s the byproduct of the process that makes cleansers mild and nonirritating.

Formaldehyde and 1,4 dioxane are not listed on the back of J&J’s personal care products because neither is technically considered an ingredient.

This latest announcement coincided with the launch of Johnson & Johnson’s ingredient transparency website www.safetyandcarecommitment.com. The website includes information about how ingredients are selected and evaluated and the company’s future plans for a number of ingredients that have come under increased public scrutiny.

J&J says it will 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, largely due to pressure from interest groups and consumer feedback.

Susan Nettesheim, J&J’s vice president of product stewardship and toxicology, wrote in a blog post that over the past few years some interest groups have raised questions about the ingredients in personal care products used widely around the world, with a particular focus on the company’s baby products. While J&J was initially disappointed because its products do meet safety guidelines, the company came to realize that “sometimes safety alone isn’t enough,” Nettesheim wrote.

Meanwhile, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has pressured the industry to remove formaldehyde, which last year was identified by government scientists at the National Toxicology Program as a carcinogen.

Recently J&J has also expanded its Earthwards brand, a line of environmentally conscious health care and pharmaceutical products. The company added 19 products to the range in 2011. As of March 2012 it was halfway towards its goal of having 60 products in the line by 2015.

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