Thursday, April 2, 2009

Chinese sue Johnson and Johnson

In a reversal of a now-familiar pattern, a group of Chinese families is preparing to file suit against American manufacturer Johnson & Johnson, claiming that the company imported contaminated products into China, causing their children to suffer allergic symptoms.

The suit follows a report from American non-profit group Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CFSC), which recently reported toxins in American-made bath products. The group reportedly found formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane in Johnson & Johnson's baby shampoo and Procter & Gamble's Kandoo hand wash. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists both chemicals as possible carcinogens, and lists formaldehyde as a chemical with no safe level of exposure, meaning that even the smallest amount poses a risk to human health. Both chemicals are direct results of the manufacturing process and aren't listed on the ingredients label.

Eighty families have already organized in anticipation of the suit, and lawyers don't plan to stop there. Cui Baoyu, one of the attorneys involved, said that the group was pursuing a class action "because of the huge number of victims involved." More than 50 attorneys are already involved in the case, and Cui says that "the group continues expanding as more lawyers from all over the country ask to join every day."

The CFSC study, completed earlier this month, tested 48 products for 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde, and found that a stunning 61% of products contained both. Since the release of the CFSC report, a major Chinese supermarket suspended sales of Johnson & Johnson products. Nonggongshan Supermarkets Corp., which owns more than 3,000 stores across eastern China, suspended sale of the products "until they are proved safe," according to quality control spokesman Gan Pingzhong. On March 16, the Vietnamese Drug Administration announced that it would begin testing Johnson & Johnson products in Vietnam.

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