Zimbabwe banned the importation of Johnson & Johnson baby powder with immediate effect, saying the talc used in the product is highly toxic.
Environmental health officers were advised to remove all J&J baby powder containing talc from the market, Health Secretary Jasper Chimedza said in a circular to the country’s medical directors seen by Bloomberg.
Chimedza said the products must be destroyed or “recalled” to the manufacturers. The Ministry of Health confirmed the details in the circular on Saturday. Chimedza cited research published by the American Academy of Pediatrics indicating that talc used in the production of the baby powder could be “highly toxic.”
J&J has faced thousands of lawsuits alleging talc in Johnson’s baby powder causes cancer. J&J has repeatedly denied the allegation and has challenged claims that the talc it used was contaminated with asbestos, a toxic industrial substance. The company has offered to pay $8.9 billion in order to resolve all current and future claims.
As Zimbabwe imports most its health products from South Africa, there is a risk that the contaminated baby powder could still find its way into the country, Chimedza said.