A proposed class action lawsuit has been filed in the wake of a December 2021 recall of certain Pantene, Aussie, Herbal Essences, Waterless, Old Spice and Hair Food aerosol dry conditioner and dry shampoo products that were contaminated with benzene, a known carcinogen.
According to the 12-page complaint, defendant Procter & Gamble has essentially sold “unsafe and worthless” products due to the presence of benzene, exposure to which has been linked to leukemia and other cancers. Moreover, the contamination of the dry conditioners and shampoos with benzene renders the products misbranded and illegal to sell under federal law, the suit alleges.
The lawsuit claims the December 17 recall does not go far enough to compensate consumers who purchased the contaminated products, claiming Procter & Gamble’s refund offer is “largely illusory.”
The suit explains that benzene is a component of crude oil, gasoline, and cigarette smoke and has been classified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a “Class 1 solvent” that should never be used in the manufacture of drug products due to its “unacceptable toxicity.” Exposure to benzene has been linked to cancer, birth defects and damage to the reproductive system, the case adds.
According to the suit, exposure to benzene through the skin, such as insunscreenproducts, for instance, is “particularly concerning” given it can lead to high levels of the dangerous substance in a person’s blood. Absorption through inhalation, such as through an aerosol product like the ones at issue in this lawsuit, “can be even more dangerous,” the suit says.
Per the case, Procter & Gamble and the FDA issued a December 17 recall of the company’s aerosol dry conditioner and dry shampoo products sold under the Pantene, Aussie, Herbal Essences and Waterless brands in addition to previously discontinued Old Spice and Hair Food products. The recall notice stated that while benzene is not an ingredient in the dry shampoo and conditioner products, P&G discovered that “unexpected levels of benzene came from the propellant that sprays the product out of the can.”
The lawsuit claims that although P&G “feigned the opportunity” for customers to claim refunds for the products they purchased, the company has made it “virtually impossible” to do so. Customers who navigate to the brands’ websites from the recall notice discover that they must provide proof of purchase to obtain a refund for six or more products or otherwise receive no refund at all, the case relays. The suit stresses that for “small-ticket” personal hygiene products such as dry conditioners and dry shampoos, most customers typically make routine purchases and do not keep their receipts.
The case looks to cover anyone in the U.S. who purchased the recalled dry conditioner and dry shampoo products, excluding those who purchased the items for resale. The full list of products can be found in the recall notice, but the complaint notes that more items may be added to the lawsuit if it is revealed that additional products have been contaminated.
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