Consumer products giant Johnson and Johnson has said it doesn't intend withdrawing its babycare products in China.
Responding to a report from the US-based Campaign for Safe Cosmetics on the cancer risk of the chemicals in products like shampoo over a period of time, the company said its products have passed all safety checks in every country where they are sold.
The US non-profit reported that traces of the chemicals formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane were present in dozens of top-selling children's bath products, including Johnson & Johnson's Baby Shampoo and Procter & Gamble's Kandoo hand wash.
The US Environment Protection Agency views both chemicals as probable carcinogens. The substances are byproducts of the manufacturing process and are not listed on the ingredients label.
J&J is not considering any recall or refund as a result of the concerns raised, Tony Tao of Edelman Global Public Relations, which represents Johnson & Johnson China, told Shanghai Daily.
J&J argued that several government and industrial watchdogs including the US Food and Drug Administration have long been aware of the potential presence of the chemicals in personal care products and found them to be safe if kept at low levels.
J&J said the consumers organization was distorting the facts and that its "false suspicions" had triggered unnecessary concern among parents.
P&G said its products on the group's list are not sold on China's mainland, but they are safe nonetheless.
In China, formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane are not included in the routine testing procedures for imported products.
Johnson & Johnson said it would cooperate with local food and drag administration if it decides tests are needed, Tao said.
While Shanghai stores continued to sell the baby care goods, a recent public opinion survey showed parents are becoming increasingly concerned.
Parents, already on high alert after melamine-tainted milk was blamed for the deaths of six infants and illnesses affecting nearly 300,000 others, may be taking action on their own. In an online survey by Sina.com, nearly 60 percent of respondents said they won't buy the products.
A local medical expert said there is no clinical evidence connecting children's skin diseases or other problems with products containing trace amounts of formaldehyde or 1,4-dioxane. But he did add a cautionary note.
"The skin of infants and children is sensitive and prone to allergies," Dr Wu Jian of the Shanghai Children's Medical Center's department of dermatology said yesterday.
"Parents should use quality products and not put too much shampoo on children and not use shampoo every day while bathing infants," Wu said.