New Delhi: The laboratory testing of two popular baby care products of US firm Johnson and Johnson has been ordered by a child rights body of the government, after taking suo motu cognisance of a number of US court orders against it over alleged lack of warning about health risks of its talc-based products.
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has asked five states — Gujarat, Jharkhand, Assam, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh — to collect the samples of Johnson and Johnson baby powder and shampoo for testing.
In the letters to states last month, the NCPCR said there were news reports highlighting the concerns about the use of products manufactured by Johnson and Johnson as they may contain carcinogenic substances like asbestos and formaldehyde.
When contacted, a company official said, "We have not received any query from the government and Johnson and Johnson has stopped using any dehydrate since 2015."
NCPCR Chairperson Stuti Kacker said,"We have the powers to take suo motu cognisance and we have done that. This is a fact finding exercise. We have to protect our children and if we find anything wrong then we will definitely take action,"
The NCPCR old the states to carry out the tests only in government-accredited laboratories.
The testing was ordered following reports that a US court in February awarded $72 million to the family of a woman who died from ovarian cancer claiming that it was caused after prolonged used the company's talcum powder.
The Commission has asked the states to submit the report within 30 days of the issuance of letter on 17 May. The NCPCR said the reports of the tests will be placed before an expert committee for further examination and action.
"You are hereby requested to collect samples of Johnson and Johnson baby powder and shampoo following the due procedure and in presence of a representative from SCPCR (State Commission for Protection of Child Rights), and forward the samples to NABL accredited government laboratory only for testing the composition of the samples including the presence of asbestos (in talc) and formaldehyde (in shampoo) and any other hazardous chemical," it said in the letter to the Chief Secretaries of the states.
Referring to the US court order, it said the case highlighted the safety issues and that since the company is a leading manufacturer of baby care products in India, it is important to establish the safety of children using these products.