Rumbidzayi Zinyuke Senior Health Reporter
THE Ministry of Health and Child Care has recalled batches of South African-produced Purity Essentials baby powder after traces of cancer-causing asbestos were detected.
The recall includes the 100g, 200g and 400g packs of this powder and follows a recall by maker Tiger Brands last month with the Zimbabwean authorities wanting to make sure any of the contaminated batches that made it into the country are taken off the shelves and that recalled batches do not enter the country.
Permanent Secretary for Health and Child Care Dr Jasper Chimedza yesterday said the batches contained unacceptable levels of asbestos which causes a rare cancer called mesothelioma.
He said there was a possibility that the contaminated batches had found their way onto the Zimbabwean market given the country’s trade with South Africa.
“Given that a significant number of products in our supermarkets are sourced from South Africa, there is a possibility that some batches of the baby powder in question are already in Zimbabwe.
“These products should be removed from the shelves or intercepted at points of entry. Let us inform the public of this harmful product to stop further distribution of the product within the country due to its negative health effects,” Dr Chimedza said.
Asbestos exposure occurs after repeated use of asbestos-contaminated products, such as talc and older construction materials. Asbestos is the only carcinogen proven to cause mesothelioma.
The cancer begins in the tissue mesothelium that lines the lungs, heart, stomach, and other organs. This causes a painful cough, difficulty in breathing, chest pain, abdominal pain and weight loss.
Tiger Brands recalled the products in September as a precautionary measure after trace levels of asbestos had been detected in test samples from a batch of pharmaceutical-grade talc powder used as a raw material in the production of finished powder products.
“The batch of raw material with the detected trace levels of asbestos does not meet the company’s strict quality and safety standards,” Tiger Brands said in a statement.