Big US Retailers Pull 22-Ounce J&J Baby Powder Off Shelves After Recall
Four major US retailers, including Walmart and Target Corp, are removing all 22-ounce bottles of Johnson & Johnson's baby powder from their stores, following the healthcare conglomerate's recall of some bottles due to possible asbestos contamination.
Recently, J&J had recalled around 33,000 bottles of baby powder in the United States after US health regulators found trace amounts of asbestos, a known carcinogen, in samples taken from a bottle purchased online.
The move marked the first time J&J recalled its iconic baby powder for possible asbestos contamination, and the first time US regulators announced a finding of asbestos in the product.
Target has removed all bottles of the product from its stores and Target.com following the recall, a spokeswoman said in an email.
CVS Health Corp said it would remove the bottles from its online store as well, out of caution and to prevent customer confusion. The pharmacy chain said all other sizes of the talc would remain on its shelves.
"It's not important at all in terms of the dollar figure to either CVS or J&J. What it tells you is that retailers are being extra cautious with how they are dealing with J&J's voluntary recall," Jefferies healthcare analyst Jared Holz said.
Rite Aid had informed its stores to pull all 22-ounce bottles of Johnson's Baby Powder from shelves on 18 October and store them in a secure location, company spokesman Chris Savarese said.
"Additionally, we've applied a point of sale system block for this product to prevent it from being sold."
Walmart, the world's largest retailer, has also removed and blocked all potentially impacted baby powder, a company spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.
J&J's voluntary recall was limited to one lot of Johnson's Baby Powder produced and shipped in the United States in 2018, J&J said last week. The company added that testing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as recently as a month ago found no asbestos in their talc.
Commenting on CVS's move, J&J spokesman Ernie Knewitz said, "It's temporary ... They are doing it storewide because they don't have the resources to go through at the store level and check all the SKUs (stock keeping units), check all the lot numbers."
Other retailers are also expected to remove the product from their shelves as they want to avoid liability, said Eric Schiffer, chief executive officer of private equity firm Patriarch Organisation.
"It wouldn't surprise me to see Amazon and other online retailers do the same," he added.