Bacteria in Cottonelle Wipes
In October 2020, Kimberly-Clark announced the recall of Cottonelle Flushable Wipes and GentlePlus Flushable Wipes due to the presence of pluralibacter gergoviae bacteria, which can lead to infection. The wipes have been in high demand due to the pandemic.
Pluralibacter gergoviae bacteria is often found in soil, water, and sewage. It also appears in cosmetics, shampoo, and baby wipes.
In October 2020, Kimberly-Clark voluntarily recalled select packages of Cottonelle Flushable Wipes and GentlePlus Flushable Wipes sold in the U.S., Canada, and Caribbean due to the bacterial contamination. The recall was limited to the wipes that were manufactured between February 7 and September 14, 2020.
The recall warned that the wipes may contain pluralibacter gergoviae, which is linked to serious infections in healthy individuals. Additionally, the recall mentioned that individuals with weak immune systems are at a heightened infection risk.
In November 2020, Kimberly-Clark Corporation was hit with a proposed class action lawsuit in New York federal court with product liability claims in addition to alleging violations of New York’s false advertising laws. Plaintiff Dawn Rothfeld claimed in the lawsuit that she used Cottonelle Wipes for personal hygiene and that they were contaminated with pluralibacter gergoviae bacteria. The lawsuit stated that the bacteria caused a urinary tract infection, painful urination, and other symptoms. The plaintiff was treated with antibiotics but she also had to have ultrasounds of her abdomen and bladder. Even after all of these measures, Rothfeld still experiences weakness, nausea, and vomiting after using the Cottonelle Wipes between February and October 2020.
The lawsuit noted that “thousands of women have reported urinary-tract infections after using the wipes, which required doctor and hospitals visits, and Cottonelle’s social media accounts have been flooded with accounts of injuries relating to the products—many of which have gone undiagnosed due to the rare strain of bacteria at issue.”
The lawsuit claimed that the contamination occurred in February 2020 in certain lots of the wipes. It also alleges that Kimberly-Clark did not have safeguards to detect bacterial contamination. This is despite the wipes allegedly having dark brown spots on the surface and the packaging smelling like mildew—both being signs of bacterial contamination.
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