Johnson & Johnson has been a well-known baby care brand for many decades now. However, even as we at Mumbai Mom have noted in the past, there has been a lot of speculation regarding the properties of the ingredients used in their products. It is with this background in mind (read that as – ‘with a lot of scepticism’) that Mumbai Mom attended a mother’s meet organised by Johnson & Johnson in association with Baby Chakra, a few days ago. Do keep in mind, that Mumbai Mom prides herself in being a neutral and well informed parent.
To begin with, the Johnson’s team was very excited to share with the mothers present, some of their newest offerings. And as expected their contention is that all of their products are ‘best for baby’. Well, we all know that multinationals with behemoth budgets can afford to create a spin around their products without so much as breaking a sweat. However, during the event the Johnson’s team was sporting enough to answer some tough questions posed to them by the mothers present there.
Question No. 1 : Carcinogenic Ingredients?
This was of course the top question on everyone’s minds. There have been numerous reports of cancer causing agents being present in Johnson’s products – the talcum powder in particular. Indeed, as reported by Mumbai Mom in a previous article, a jury in the US granted a compensation of USD 70 million to a woman who claimed that her ovarian cancer was linked to her sustained usage of Johnson’s Baby Powder.
Team Johnson was quick to confirm this fact while stating that despite the ruling, the causality between the powder usage and cancer had not been established at all. Indeed, J&J has gone on to win two other similar cases in the same district of the US. They also provided us with some information regarding the entire hullaballoo around talcs. Bottomline is that most talcum powder brands, including Johnson’s Baby Talc are deemed safe by the FDA – and are permitted to sell in the country only if they are certified to be asbestos free and safety norm compliant.
Question No. 2 : Different product ranges (and standards) across Europe, US and India
The second important question put to the J&J team was regarding the seemingly different formulations that their products have across regions. Specifically, with regards to fragrances found in their products like talc, baby oil and soaps. Again, the contention that fragrances are actually irritants and have not been completely removed from the Indian product line was something that was highlighted by the mothers.
The team from Johnson’s India concurred that they had indeed reduced the intensity of fragrances in the Indian product line, however they could not do away with it completely because Indians have historically associated Johnson’s Baby with a particular ‘baby smell’. The company apparently faced a lot of customer backlash on reducing the intensity of the fragrance in their products. However, the J&J team repeatedly assured us that the product lines across countries had the absolute same formulation and there was no distinction in the core ingredients at all.
Question No. 3 : Why are differently priced ranges available in India?
One observation that came up during the discussion was the wide price disparity between ‘imported’ J&J products and ones manufactured locally – and how, many retailers claim that the company products from ‘abroad’ are better. The Johnson’s representatives present were very clear that any so called ‘imported’ products may have most likely come via the grey market and may not actually be genuine at all. So that’s a red flag to watch out for, all of us gullible consumers out here.
At the end of the interaction, it was clear that the J&J team was very keen to dispel the rumours and stories that have hounded the brand over the last couple of years. After all, it IS a 130 year old company – and it takes its reputation very seriously. And that should give us some reassurance about their best practices. You can watch more of what J&J is offering in terms of products and their ‘Best for Baby’ promise on their YouTube channel here.
Mumbai Mom was genuinely convinced by some of the company’s replies regarding the speculation surrounding the brand. However, we urge you to do you your own background checks before using any product (from any brand) for yourself or your child. This may be as simple an act as educating yourself about the ingredients and taking a minute out to read labels.
The J&J meet was not all gyaan and bhaashan though! There were games and quizzes that brought out the most competitive spirits from the moms present 😉 Mumbai Mom thanks BabyChakra for organising such a fun and engaging session that did not feel like an ‘event’ at all! Do check out the BabyChakra app to get all information and support about parenting at your fingertips (yes, we mean your mobile screen;))