Is natural always better? Johnson & Johnson dares to speak sense and science

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In New Jersey, baby care giant Johnson & Johnson demonstrated corporate courage when it released a promotional video that makes a bold claim: natural ingredients are not always the best or the safest.

The assertion runs counter to the current “natural-is-best adage” dominating parenting culture.

“While many parents want all-natural products for their baby, natural or organic isn’t always what is safest for baby,” David Mays, Senior Director of Global Scientific Engagement at Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. tells Forbes. “The debate over naturals and chemicals has been oversimplified where many consumers now believe that the more natural something is, the better and safer it is. It’s just not that simple and in fact that oversimplification is doing a great disservice to consumers.”  Every ingredient—natural and synthetic—needs to be evaluated for efficacy and safety, he adds.

For example, orange oil is commonly used in Jessica Alba’s Honest Company hand sanitizer, but can be irritating. May says the ingredient is not used in Johnson & Johnson’s baby care products. Another ingredient—the synthetic chemical mineral oil—is a highly effective moisturizing ingredient and skin protectant with a long history of safe use, according to the company.