Tue, 26 Sep 2023

HARARE, June 2 (Xinhua) -- The Zimbabwean government has banned the importation, distribution, and sale of American multinational company Johnson & Johnson's baby powder after it was found to cause cancer.

A letter from Ministry of Health and Child Care Permanent Secretary Jasper Chimedza, addressed to all provincial medical directors, issued the directive, chronicling other countries which had also raised a red flag over the baby powder.

"Ministry of Health and Child Care is banning the importation and distribution and sale of Johnson & Johnson baby powder containing the talc ingredient with immediate effect.

"Environmental health officers and technicians are advised to remove all Johnson & Johnson's baby powder containing the talc ingredient from the market. Inspectors are advised to document their findings, and the products must be destroyed or recalled to the manufacturers," Chimedza said in the letter dated May 24 and seen by Xinhua Friday.

Johnson & Johnson baby powder is a popular brand in Zimbabwe, with adults also using it to cure odor in their feet.

Giving a background to the ban, Chimedza said an American television channel on April 18, 2023, reported that Johnson & Johnson had assumed the liability to pay 8.9 billion U.S. dollars to the medical industry in compensation over allegations that its baby powder was causing cancer.

"Research by the American Academy of Paediatrics unearthed that the talc used in the production of the baby powder was highly toxic due to contamination with carcinogen asbestos," he said.

He added that the Tanzania Bureau of Standards on April 19, 2023, banned the importation, distribution, and sale of the baby powder containing the talc ingredient.

"The product is still popular in South Africa amid indications that most consumers are unaware of its potential risks.

"Given the significant importation of health products by Zimbabwe from South Africa, there is a high risk that the contaminated baby powder could still be finding its way into the Zimbabwean market," he warned.

Johnson & Johnson announced in 2020 that it would stop selling its talc baby powder in the United States and Canada after demand had fallen due to what it called "misinformation" about the product's safety, according to media reports.

Zimbabwe, in October 2022, banned the importation of other baby powders following their recall by their South African distributor, Tiger Brands, after it was discovered that they contained high levels of asbestos.

The products were Purity Essentials Baby Powder, Purity & Elizabeth Anne's Essentials Baby Powder and Purity and Elizabeth Anne's Fresh Baby Powder.

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