It’s finally happened. Johnson & Johnson reported they will no longer sell talc-based baby powder in North America, citing the lack of consumer demand ‘fueled by misinformation.’
We natural-minded moms have known it for who knows who long? Seems like forever, honestly, that we’ve politely smiled at the baby showers filled with the obligatory necessities for baby. What’s a baby to do without baby powder, right?
Well, finally, all mamas will have the opportunity to figure that out (or just check out our natural alternatives) since Johnson & Johnson reported they’re discontinuing North American sales of their talc-based baby powder. Once the product that made up half a percent of its total consumer health business in the U.S., it’s now the product that has brought thousands and thousands of lawsuits to Johnson & Johnson. Those lawsuits are from cancer patients claiming that the company knew their talc was contaminated with asbestos and still promoted it as safe for baby.
Related: Natural Baby Powder
Asbestos is a known carcinogen, and natural-minded parents have been concerned for years, despite the company’s strong defense for decades that their products are safe, and that the baby powder is pure and gentle for babies.
Johnson & Johnson reported they’d let retailers sell existing products until they were out, and that baby powder made with cornstarch would still be available to North American retailers and consumers. They also reported they’d still sell talc-based baby powder in other parts of the world, suggesting that faulty tests and poor science are the reason that any powders they made were tainted with asbestos.
Though they are discontinuing the sales of the product in North America, they’ll continue to defend their product and the intents behind the baby powder in courts. They also acknowledge that the lack of sales for their talc-based version has prompted the discontinuation, not their concerns about safety. In fact, they go so far as to say it’s ‘misinformation’ that has fueled consumers’ lack of demand. In essence, our dollars (and lack of buying things that may be bad for our families because we research) spoke loudly.
Talc is a mineral that’s known for its soft qualities, and it’s a fragrance that is recognizable to most in an instant. Back in the 80s, consumer advocates began raising concerns about asbestos traces, and that’s when Johnson & Johnson began developing their cornstarch version.
And in 2018, a group of women won a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson for their knowledge about potential risk and non-disclosure. Currently, there are over 19,000 lawsuits that are related to talc body powders and a federal judge ruled that scientific experts could testify about the dangers of the talc. This was a hit to Johnson & Johnson, as they wanted to exclude scientific testimony. This leads one to ask why a company would want science excluded, doesn’t it?
Johnson & Johnson’s talc supply company, Imerys Talc America, filed for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year.
So what can you use instead of talc-based baby powder? Several things!
- Cornstarch. There’s a reason Johnson & Johnson added a cornstarch version and is keeping it on the market. It works. It’s a wonderful natural alternative and it soaks up the moisture just as well as talc. You can even get it at the grocery store if you like.
- Tapioca or Arrowroot Starch. These are used in paleo cooking quite a bit and they do just the same thing as talc and cornstarch. They’re derived from plants in South American and they’re a natural alternative you won’t have to worry about causing cancer.
- Kaolin Clay. This is a soft mineral you find in a lot of different personal products and it absorbs oils and moisture. You can even mix it with arrowroot or cornstarch for maximum benefit, and since it’s a mineral, you have less concern about yeast infection.
- Baking Soda. Yep, good old-fashioned baking soda can do it too. Just be careful as it can be an irritant to some people (in deodorants, for example).
- Quality Commercial Powders. If you don’t want to make your own, there are several on the market that do a great job and without the concerns of talc.
As mothers and empowered women, our goal in life is not to squeal with joy whenever companies finally realize they need to put people before profit. We take no joy in it taking so many lawsuits and scientific studies and recommendations about talc-based powders to finally get Johnson & Johnson to remove the product in North America. Still, we’re thankful that more people are knowing more and doing better, and that will make a difference for generations to come.
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