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Baby products firm in quality pledge

HEALTH care producer Johnson & Johnson told a press conference in Beijing yesterday that its baby-care products were up to quality standards, and "to win customers' trust is more important than the sales volume."

The general manager of Johnson & Johnson (China), Wang Meiying, made the remarks following the top quality watchdog's test report on Friday which said the products were "safe."

On March 12, a group in the United States, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, issued test results on 48 Johnson & Johnson's baby products, including body wash, shampoo and soaps, which showed 23 contained potential carcinogens.

Those products were said to contain formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane. The chemicals were said to be found in top brands such as Johnson & Johnson, Mustela and Procter & Gamble.

The report raised concerns over the safety of Johnson & Johnson's baby products and some Chinese supermarkets pulled some products from their shelves.

A woman in Chengdu City, capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province, claimed her 1-year-old daughter had developed a rash after exposure to Johnson & Johnson's Baby Bedtime Oil.

The claim drew nationwide attention. But the company explained the rash was "similar to an allergy and resulted from the difference between individual constitutions but not a quality problem."

Nonetheless, Johnson & Johnson paid for medicine and transport costs - 631.81 yuan (US$92.50).

Johnson & Johnson's spokeswoman Lu Jing said the company had received very few complaints about allergies and these appeared to be allergies after buying the products but not caused by the products.

"So far, there is no conclusion that suggests Johnson & Johnson's products would cause any allergy," Johnson & Johnson's market research center director Wu Dong said.

The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine last Friday released test results on 31 batches of 26 Johnson & Johnson's baby products, which showed only 1 batch with a small amount - 3.27 ppm - of 1,4-dioxane.

"Ppm is a unit of concentration which represents one out of a million. The amount is like three drops of water in a whole swimming pool," Wu said. "The 1,4-dioxane is widely seen in our daily goods, such as tomatoes, fresh shrimp and coffee. Shrimp contain 20 to 30 ppm of such an element."

He emphasized the substance found was only a byproduct during processing.

According to Johnson & Johnson's previous statement, the trace levels of certain compounds found by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics "can result from processes that make our products gentle for babies and safe from bacteria growth."

The US Food and Drug Administration said earlier that the levels of chemical found in cosmetics it monitored would not present a hazard.

Formaldehyde, a preservative commonly found in construction materials, can cause breathing problems and is classified as a carcinogen.

Cai Lin, a dermatologist from the Peking University People's Hospital, said elements that may cause allergies usually came from essences, pigments and preservatives. She suggested consumers avoid products with strong scents, colors or long shelf lives.


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