How big companies respond to scare stories

I thought this was an interesting article about how Proctor and Gamble are responding to claims that their Tide Detergent brand contains carcinogens.  According to the story, they are satisfied that the level of the ingredient (1,4 dioxane – a contaminant in the production of their detergent) is at a low enough level that it is safe.  They are not going to reformulate.

The consumer advocate that is interviewed in the article makes the claim that “There are certain things that you do you know you’ll get 1,4 dioxane with, and there are fairly easy things you can do to make sure you don’t get it.”  I wonder how true that is.  If getting rid of that contaminant was easy, why wouldn’t P&G just do it?  I suspect there is more to this.

But the real interesting point of this story was that P&G wasn’t going to reformulate…yet.  This is different from how they handled their Herbalessence brand a couple years ago when the same issue was brought up.  In that case, they reformulated.

J&J also reformulated last year when concerns were raised about their Baby Shampoo containing Quaternium-15 (a formaldehyde donor).  They contend that the product was not unsafe but the bad publicity forced their hand.

As a cosmetic chemist you will no doubt have to face a similar issue in your career.  It’s unfortunate that you’ll be working on a project that doesn’t make your product any better but on the plus side, it’s good job security.

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