Johnson & Johnson blamed the feds for a recent asbestos scare as the company cleared its signature baby powder of the toxic substance.
The pharmaceutical giant said “test sample contamination and/or analyst error” most likely led a US Food and Drug Administration contractor to find tiny amounts of asbestos in samples of Johnson’s Baby Powder, which led the company to recall about 33,000 bottles of the product.
Some 155 tests done by two third-party labs found no asbestos in baby powder samples — including some from the same bottle the feds flagged, according to Johnson & Johnson.
“Our talc is safe and asbestos free,” the New Jersey-based company said in a Tuesday statement, adding that the latest tests “are consistent with the results from renowned independent research labs over the past 40 years.”
The October recall marked the first time Johnson & Johnson had ever recalled its baby powder over possible asbestos contamination. Asbestos, when inhaled, can cause cancer and has been linked to the deadly disease mesothelioma.
The company said its investigation found FDA’s contracted lab, AMA Analytical Services, “deviated from standard practice” with its testing protocol and did not perform a full asbestos confirmation. Johnson & Johnson said it also ruled out the mine and manufacturing supply chain as root causes of the lab’s findings.
The FDA stood by its findings. Labs’ different testing methods can yield varying results as there is not an industry-wide standard for detecting and counting asbestos fibers, agency spokeswoman Lyndsay Meyer said.
Results can also differ among samples because the fibers are not dispersed uniformly throughout powdered talc, Meyer said.
“We believe the positive result our testing found is of concern and warranted the actions the agency took to protect consumers,” Meyer said in a statement.
The fact that contaminants are not spread uniformly throughout talc could have led to the different test outcomes, FDA officials have said. The agency also says there is no standard test for asbestos in talc.
A rep for AMA Analytical Services did not immediately return a request for comment Wednesday morning.