March 19, 2009 / 2:58 AM / 11 years ago

Chinese city probes J&J baby bath products

Customers in a supermarket in northeastern China's Liaoning province in a file photo. REUTERS/Stringer

BEIJING/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Chinese health authorities are investigating baby bath products made by Johnson & Johnson in response to a U.S. consumer group’s charges that some of the products’ chemicals could cause cancer, the U.S. company said on Thursday.

Joannan Lu, the Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman in China, confirmed the company had handed in products to the Shanghai quality watchdogs for checks, but added it has no plan to pull its products from the Chinese market.

The company has no information about when the results would be available from the quality checks by the Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision and the Shanghai Food and Drug Administration, Lu told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Officials at both Shanghai agencies were not available for comment.

Johnson & Johnson disputes the consumer group’s charges, saying in a statement that the trace levels of the compounds in question result from processes that make the products gentle for babies and safe from bacteria growth.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other government agencies consider these trace levels safe, the company said in a statement.

According to local media reports, a Shanghai-based regional supermarket chain, Nonggongshang Supermarket Group, has ordered its 3,500 chain outlets to remove baby bath products made by Johnson & Johnson from their shelves.

“It is an individual action of the company. We express our understanding,” Lu said.

Other major outlets in China, including the U.S. supermarket Wal-Mart Stores and its French rival Carrefour, still carry the products.

Reporting by Michael Wei in Beijing and Helen Chernikoff in New York; Editing by Ken Wills and Muralikumar Anantharaman

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