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UPDATE 2-J&J says new tests find no asbestos in same baby power bottle that sparked recall

Carl O'Donnell

sparked recall@ (Adds additional comment from spokesman, attempt to reach FDA)

Oct 29 (Reuters) - Johnson & Johnson said on Tuesday that 15 new tests found no asbestos in a bottle of baby powder that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration previously said had tested positive for trace amounts of asbestos.

The tests are the latest effort by J&J to prove the safety of its widely used consumer product after a test by the FDA prompted J&J to undertake a nationwide recall of one lot of its Johnson's Baby Powder.

"Rigorous and third-party testing confirms there is no asbestos in Johnson's Baby Powder. We stand by the safety of our product," the company said in a statement.

Earlier this month, the company recalled around 33,000 bottles of baby powder in the United States after regulators found trace amounts of asbestos in samples taken from a bottle purchased online.

The voluntary recall was limited to one lot of Johnsons Baby Powder produced and shipped in the United States in 2018, the company said at the time.

That move marked the first time the company recalled its iconic baby powder for possible asbestos contamination, and the first time U.S. regulators have announced a finding of asbestos in the product. Asbestos is a known carcinogen that has been linked to deadly mesothelioma.

The FDA had no immediate comment on the latest findings.

J&J will not reverse the recall of those 22-ounce containers, but its baby powder remains available to consumers in stores, a company spokesperson told Reuters.

The recall had been the latest blow to the more than 130-year-old U.S. healthcare conglomerate that is facing thousands of lawsuits over a variety of products, including baby powder, opioids, medical devices and the antipsychotic Risperdal.

J&J faces more than 15,000 lawsuits from consumers claiming its talc products, including Johnsons Baby Powder, caused their cancer. (Additional reporting by Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru; Editing by Tom Brown and Bill Berkrot)