CONSUMER PROTECTION

33,000 bottles of baby powder recalled

Johnson & Johnson said on Friday it is recalling around 33,000 bottles of baby powder in the United States after U.S. health regulators found trace amounts of asbestos in samples taken from a bottle purchased online.

The move marks the first time the company has recalled its baby powder for possible asbestos contamination, and the first time U.S. regulators have announced a finding of asbestos in a Johnson & Johnson powder. Asbestos is a known carcinogen that has been linked to mesothelioma.

The voluntary recall is limited to one lot of Johnson’s Baby Powder produced and shipped in the United States in 2018, the company said. Johnson & Johnson said in a news release that testing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as recently as a month ago found no asbestos in their talc.

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The U.S. health-care conglomerate is facing some 15,000 lawsuits from plaintiffs claiming use of Johnson & Johnson talc products caused cancer.

Johnson & Johnson said on a conference call that it received a report from the FDA on Thursday alerting the company about the asbestos finding. It said it has started an investigation and is reviewing manufacturing records to determine where the product was shipped.

— Reuters

BEVERAGE INDUSTRY

Coke results boosted by smaller-sized sodas

Coca-Cola beat Wall Street estimates for quarterly revenue on Friday as customers took to smaller-sized cans of its sodas, including Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, prompting the beverage maker to give an upbeat forecast for 2019.

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Faltering demand for sugary drinks has forced the world’s two largest beverage makers, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, to roll out low-sugar drinks, while diversifying into coffee, tea and bottled waters to boost sales.

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Coca-Cola has also been rolling out new products such as Coca-Cola Plus Coffee, a blend of its trademark soda with coffee in more than 20 markets, as well as drinks in small but high-margin packs that are appealing to consumers who are turning more health conscious.

The beverage maker is launching Coca-Cola Energy, its first Coke-branded energy drink, in the United States, and has expanded its coffee business with the multibillion dollar purchase of Britain-based Costa Coffee last year.

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Volume in sparkling soft drinks rose 2 percent in the quarter, driven by double-digit percentage growth in Coca-Cola Zero Sugar and Sprite in North America.

Strong growth was also seen in its smaller package drinks, led by double-digit growth in 7.5-ounce mini-cans.

— Reuters

Also in Business

Sanofi is voluntarily recalling heartburn medication Zantac in the U.S. and Canada amid worries that the medicine may be tainted with a compound that could cause cancer. The French pharma company's announcement follows decisions from major drugstore operators in the U.S. — including Walgreens Boots Alliance and Walmart — to pull the medication.

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General Motors plans to build a new family of premium electric pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles at its Detroit-Hamtramck plant beginning in late 2021, possibly reviving the imposing Hummer brand on some of them, several people familiar with the plans said. The BT1 electric truck/SUV program is the centerpiece of a planned $3 billion investment in the Detroit-Hamtramck plant to make electric trucks and vans, and part of a broader $7.7 billion investment in GM's U.S. plants over the next four years, according to a proposed labor deal between the automaker and the United Auto Workers union.

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SoftBank Group is assembling a rescue financing plan for the We Co., formerly WeWork, that may value the office-sharing company below $8 billion, according to people familiar with the discussions. The new figure is a fraction of the $47 billion valuation the start-up commanded as recently as January.

American Express reported a higher-than-expected rise in third-quarter profit on Friday, as more people used its cards to shop, pay bills and make big ticket purchases. American Express cards, for long the preferred choice of affluent Americans, is now battling competition from JPMorgan Chase's Sapphire Reserve and Citigroup' Prestige Card. The company has ramped up its reward programs on its cards and struck partnership deals.

— From news services

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