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P&G pays £6.5 million in benzene settlement

Chloe Burney
07 December 2022

Following a recall on all products containing benzene in November 2021, beauty conglomerate P&G (Proctor & Gamble) has agreed to pay out £6.5 million ($8 million) to resolve claims.

In November 2021, when products were recalled, the company had not received any reports of adverse effects following their use. P&G followed with a comment: "Daily exposure to benzene in the recalled products at the levels detected in our testing would not be expected to cause adverse health consequences."

However, several class action lawsuits followed the product recall, claiming consumers ‘wouldn’t have purchased the aerosol products if they knew it could expose them to benzene’, which is a known carcinogen.

According to the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration): “Benzene is a known human carcinogen that causes leukaemia and other blood disorders. Certain hand sanitisers and aerosol drug products have been recalled due to benzene contamination. This contamination may be related to inactive ingredients such as carbomers (thickening agents), isobutane (a spray propellant), or other drug components made from hydrocarbons.”

Plaintiffs in the consolidated case sought refunds for purchased P&G aerosol products and compensation for false advertising, an undisclosed source added.

The harmful chemical was found within Secret, Old Spice, Pantene, Waterless, Aussie, Herbal Essences, Hair Food aerosol antiperspirants, deodorants, body spray, dry shampoo, and dry conditioner products. Consumers who purchased these products between 4 November 2015 and 31 December 2021 are entitled to compensation from the settlement.

Isabel Brown, Consumer Watchdog Associate, added: "Tests for benzene should happen before, not after, products end up on store shelves and in the hands of consumers.

"These are products that people use every day, and the health risks increase with prolonged use. Whether it's an ingredient that the manufacturer adds or not, the fact is that a known carcinogen keeps showing up in aerosol products. This can't happen again.”


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