There are so many things to worry about being a parent, one of which is about the safety of the products we buy for our children. Every few months or so, I feel like there is another report scaring the heck out of me about some product or another. Formula, milk and, recently Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo.

The Scare

In a report dated March 12th, a U.S. consumer group, Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, found toxic chemicals formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane in "dozens" of J&J's baby products, including baby shampoo. Formaldeyhde, a preservative found in construction materials, can cause breathing problems and is classified as a carcinogen. These allegations struck a nerve here in China where a slew of recent product safety and quality scandals have left consumers, especially parents, jittery. A Shanghai-based supermarket chain, Nong Gong Shang, even went so far as pulling J&J baby products from 3,500 stores.


The Shanghai Food and Drug Administration found no contamination by formaldehyde, or 1,4-dioxine, in 33 products -including 14 bath or or sanitary related items -sold by J&J's Shanghai branch. China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine also tested 31 batches of bath products made by J&J's China operation and found they met the standard for formaldehyde. One batch of Baby Peach Bath contained a small amount of p-dioxane. Apparently, it is inevitable for the product to acquire a small amount of this chemical during the production process and this small quantity does not pose a health risk.

My Take

We simply do not have the ability to research the safety of all the products to which we expose our kids. If we obsess too much about this, we will go crazy and become overly paranoid. On the other hand, we do not want to look the other way and create unnecessary risks to our children's health. I guess we all set our own guidelines to make ourselves feel better. Mine is a silly "just in case" rule: If there is a scare, even if resolved, I avoid the product. There are so many other ones from which to choose. Why take any chances? For now, I am only buying imported milk for Liam, will only buy imported formula for my newborn and using Mustela baby bath products instead of J&J ones.