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Modern Mama

a little trip

Like my goggles?

I was recently asked to attend a day of learning in New Jersey, and to visit the Johnson & Johnson’s campus there.

I did a bit of research before I travelled and found this story about how J&J had been called out for ‘known carcinogens’ in some of it’s baby products. So I put that in my back pocket, thinking it would likely be discussed, and maybe even be the reason why we were being invited (myself, one other Canadian blogger, and about 15 American mom bloggers).

We all went to the Johnson & Johnson campus at Stillman together in the morning. The day started with a fun tour of the campus buildings, a labratory, and their beautiful daycare centre with over 100 children ages six weeks to Kindergarten.

Throughout the morning, we learned about fragrance, the differences between baby’s skin and adult skin, and how some of the staff have been with the company for what seems like an eternity.  I am struck by how many female senior managers and VPs there are, how much everyone seems to care and love the brand and corporation they work for, and how earth-friendly the company is.  Not that they spoke of these things, rather these were my observations throughout the morning discussing everything BUT these things.

This wall is made up of lipstick tubes that weren't usable and they didn't want to toss them in a landfill.

After lunch we sat down to listen to the VP of Product Stewardship & Toxicology.   She’s a chemist and pharmacist and she told us about their new website coming soon, all about safety and their commitment to consumer concerns.  (Stay tuned, I will tell you about it when it launches)  She also talked about the choice of chemicals used in their products, how they test, process and re-test these ingredients, as well as how chemicals are in everything around us – including parabens which are a naturally derived preservative found in blueberries and mangos.

Some things I learned, some things to ponder ….

  • Formaldehyde, which is a biproduct of the production process, which can be found in trace amounts in some of J&J’s Baby products, is also found in Apples, at a much higher level.
  • Every cell in our bodies contain formaldehyde.
  • Nutmeg is a hallucinogen.
  • The Country of France tried to ban Parabens but all of the studies performed showed no evidence of its dangers so they couldn’t proceed.
  • Johnsons Baby has committed to removing all formaldehyde and bringing the 1,4 Dioxin levels even lower than regulated (in the Johnsons Baby Shampoo) within the next two years.
  • None of the Johnsons Baby products contain Phathalates.
  • It takes two years for a product to go through their rigouruous testing processes to make it on to a shelf.
  • Johnsons has many levels of testing and consumer feedback studies and ongoing product testing even after release.
  • Natural (aka chemical free) products aren’t automatically safe.  They haven’t necessarily been tested, there isn’t years of evidence of its safety and they can’t combat against bacteria and mold – things that preservatives must protect against.

The nice thing is, we all have a choice of what products to buy and use on our family’s skin.  If you want fragrance free and natural, Johnsons Baby also offers those options with sister brand Aveeno & Johnons Naturals’ line.  I think the main thing I took away is that they really want to educate people to make informed choices.  Know what you’re buying.  Does it have a proven track record?  How do you know it’s safe?

 


2 Comments to "a little trip"

  1. Hey Connie, Looks like a very interesting day!
    Here is some context for why J&J might be eager to stress the safety of its’ use of parabens as preservatives: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/health/science/toxics/chemicals-in-your-cosmetics—parabens/
    My concern as a mom – and as a biochemist – is how pseudoestrogens like parabens affect our kids’ development. Children are going through puberty earlier and breast cancer rates have increased, and it is not clear what role chemicals that mimic hormones might have in those phenomena, because it’s a brand new area of active research. (Bisphenol A is also a pseudoestrogen and was banned from baby bottles in Canada over similar concerns.) Unfortunately the toxicology safety tests done by cosmetics makers like J&J don’t look at the subtle cumulative effects of these chemicals that endocrinologists are studying.
    But yes, J&J add preservatives to their stuff for a reason. If you make stuff in bulk, ship it across the planet, and store it for years at room temperature, it’ll need preservatives added. Does that product make our kids any safer than a paraben-free product with an expiry date on it would?

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