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Lawsuit: Huggies Natural Care Baby Wipes Contain Possible Toxin

The makers of Huggies Natural Care Baby Wipes are facing a proposed class action lawsuit that claims the product is falsely and deceptively advertised and labeled as “natural,” “gentle,” and “hypoallergenic” because it contains synthetic chemical ingredients that are potentially toxic to babies.

What does the lawsuit say?

The lawsuit, filed in California against defendants Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Kimberly-Clark Worldwide, Inc. and Kimberly-Clark Global Sales, LLC, alleges Huggies Natural Care Baby Wipes contain phenoxyethanol, among other man-made components. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) describes phenoxyethanol as a preservative commonly used in cosmetics and medications.

In addition to phenoxyethanol, Huggies Natural Care Baby Wipes also allegedly contain caprylyl glycol, cocamidopropyl betaine, and sodium citrate.

What’s so bad about phenoxyethanol?

According to the 22-page complaint, phenoxyethanol can “depress the central nervous system” in infants, and could potentially cause vomiting and diarrhea. Further, the case notes that the FDA’s French counterpart, the French Agency for the Safety of Health Products (French Agence Nationale de Securite du Medicament et des Produits de Sante), as far back as May 2012 warned consumers to stay away from using wipes containing phenoxyethanol on children under three years old due to concerns about “reproductive and developmental toxicity.”

More specifically, the lawsuit cites a Material Safety Data Sheet on phenoxyethanol that says it can cause skin and lung irritation, and that repeated, long-term exposure, whether through inhalation or skin contact, may be toxic to the kidneys, nervous system, and liver.

What about the other man-made synthetics listed in the lawsuit?

Caprylyl glycol, a synthetic skin conditioning agent and preservative, has come up in several previous lawsuits that took issue with companies’ claims that their products were all natural or 100 percent natural. The complaint says the charged companies in those lawsuits “were barred from making similar representations in the future.”

Cocamidopropyl betaine is a non-natural surfactant associated with skin irritation and allergic dermatitis, the lawsuit claims, and was named the 2004 Allergen of the Year by the American Contact Dermatitis Society.

Lastly, sodium citrate, an emulsifier, acidity regulator and preservative, has been recognized by federal regulators as a synthetic compound, the lawsuit says.

Who is included in the proposed class?

The lawsuit seeks to cover a proposed class of consumers throughout the United States who purchased Huggies Natural Care Baby Wipes within the to-be-defined statute of limitations period.  Similarly, the case also seeks to cover a proposed class of consumers in California who purchased the baby wipes within the last four years.

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