The Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) has initiated an investigation into US multinational Procter & Gamble’s (P&G) Always brand of sanitary pads following consumer complaints.
Several users have come out to complain about the quality and negative reactions from using some of the company’s products.
The move by the standards agency could result in the withdrawal of the products if they are found to be sub-standard.
“Following the concerns expressed on social media, Kebs has launched investigations that include extensive market surveillance and testing of these products to ascertain if there exists any breach of quality standards. The outcomes of analysis will determine the next course of action, including market withdrawal of any substandard products,” said Kebs in a statement Thursday.
Users of Always sanitary pads took to social media stating that it was causing general discomfort, including rashes, burning and irritation. They also raised concerns that locally sold pads were of inferior quality compared to those sold in Europe and America, a claim that P&G has refuted in statements.
The company whose range in Kenya includes Always Ultra-Thin, Always Maxi Thick, Always Ultra Soft, Always Maxi Soft, and Always Platinum, however, acknowledged that a section of its users were reacting to their products.
“We acknowledge and understand that there have been women who have had different experiences with our products. We appreciate that women have varied and unique period experiences and as such our broad portfolio is designed to cater for these needs,” read the P&G statement.
The company has however refuted claims that the product was substandard stating “all the Always pads we have in Kenya are also available and similar to the Always in other parts of the world depending on consumer needs and habits in different countries.”
Kebs said it had drawn samples for analysis for all brands of sanitary towels in Kenya with 90 percent of the samples complying with the standard including five variants from the Always brand.
This statement by the Standards watchdog, however, has not sat well with users who say the adverse reactions were a sign of flawed quality.
The uproar began after the sanitary towel maker launched a hashtag for users to give their experience using Always pads, but most ended up using it to express discomfort with the product.
What’s Hiding in Always Pads?
In August 2014 Women’s Voices for the Earth commissioned testing of four types of Always menstrual pads, manufactured by Procter & Gamble. The certified laboratory STAT Analysis Corporation analyzed the products for volatile organic compounds. These data represent the first publicly available test results of this kind for these products. Both scented and unscented Always Ultra Thin pads were tested, as well as scented and unscented Always Infinity.
The results of the testing indicate that both scented and unscented Always pads emit toxic chemicals, including chemicals identified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Toxicology Program, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, and the State of California Environmental Protection Agency as carcinogens, and reproductive and developmental toxins. None of these chemicals are disclosed on the product by the manufacturer.
Procter & Gamble does not disclose the identity of the materials used to manufacture its menstrual pads. Thus it remains unclear which components of the pad may be the source of the volatile toxic emissions. The testing results demonstrate the need for more testing of these products to better characterize the chemical exposures and to better understand the potential health impacts of those exposures.