Johnson & Johnson – Reformulation of Products to Global Standards (2005 – 2006)
Outcome: Successfully Withdrawn
* In February 2003, European Union Directive 2003/15/EC (amending Cosmetics Directive 76/768/EEC) banned the sale in Europe of cosmetics or personal care products that contain any ingredients on a list of chemicals known or suspected of causing cancer, genetic mutation, or birth defects.
* Johnson & Johnson eliminated the use of Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP) in all of its cosmetics around the world. DBP is a reproductive toxin and one of the chemicals banned by Directive 2003/15/EC.
* Johnson & Johnson should have one global product safety standard. Having multiple standards may damage its reputation and expose the company to liability.
* Global formulation to EU standards would elevate the safety standards of Johnson & Johnson’s products. The US Food and Drug Administration does not require cosmetics manufacturers to test their products for safety. They can use any raw ingredient without approval except for color additives and certain prohibited ingredients.
* Concern about safe cosmetics is growing among consumers and J&J’s competitors. Over two hundred cosmetics companies have informed the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a coalition of health, consumer, and advocacy groups, that they will inventory their products for ingredients that are suspected carcinogens, mutagens, and reproductive toxins, as well as for chemicals that affect the endocrine system, accumulate in the body or persist in the environment. These companies will proactively seek safe alternatives for these chemicals, and publicly report on their progress.
* The reformulation process necessary to comply with Directive 2003/15/EC offers companies an opportunity to begin exploring safer alternatives to all chemicals of concern. J&J should take this important first step toward product safety by reformulating its products worldwide to EU standards.
RESOLVED: Shareholders request that the Board of Directors prepare a report on the status of J&J’s use of chemicals banned by EU Directive 2003/15/EC in the company’s products sold to non-EU markets, the feasibility of implementing a global reformulation plan, and the costs and timeframe for global reformulation. The report, prepared at reasonable cost and omitting proprietary information, should be made available to shareholders by November 1, 2006.
Best known for its baby products Johnson & Johnson has built a reputation of leader in corporate social responsibility. This resolution seeks to protect J&J’s good name by resolving any doubts that Johnson & Johnson applies a higher safety standard for its European consumers than for others. Directive 2003/15/EC identifies the mutagens, reproductive toxins and carcinogens, currently posing the greatest risks to public health and particularly to babies and fetuses. Without a global reformulation policy, J&J risks losing non-European customers who are concerned about cosmetic safety. Directive 2003/15/EC offers J&J the opportunity to respond to growing concerns that chemicals of concern to infants’ and children’s health should be eliminated from cosmetics.