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If you have any of this hand soap, throw it out

Published Feb 25th, 2021 10:33AM EST
scent theory soap recall
Image: Alexander Raths/Adobe

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  • A widespread recall of hand soap sold at Walmart has gone largely unnoticed, and the company doesn’t appear to be doing much to announce the recall to its customers.
  • Over 600,000 bottles of Scent Theory hand soap have been recalled due to the possibility that it has been contaminated with a nasty bacteria.
  • The recall has been posted by the FDA, but not in the normal place for large-scale recalls such as this. 

When a consumer product is recalled for a serious reason it’s typical for the company to not only publicly acknowledge the recall but also to make it clear to consumers that the products they have in their homes may not be safe to use. This is especially true when the recall is large in scale, as the larger the number of affected products, the greater the chances that someone has a severe reaction.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be the case with a recent recall of Scent Theory hand soaps sold at Walmart stores and online. The recall wasn’t posted to the FDA’s normal recall list but was instead buried on the FDA’s lesser-known “Cosmetic Recalls” list. That’s a bit of a shock, especially when you consider that over 600,000 units of the soap are recalled for the presence of a potentially nasty bacteria.

Hand soaps are supposed to clean your hands, not make them dirtier. Scent Theory foaming hand soaps in Lemon Citrus, Vanilla Coconut, Eucalyptus Mint, and Fresh Lavender have all been voluntarily recalled because they may have been contaminated with the bacteria Burkholderia cepacia.

Even worse, the Miami Herald did some digging and found that while the date on the cosmetics recall page states the product recalls were posted as of February 11th, the actual recall initiation date was January 7th. Scent Theory’s Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts continued to promote the recalled products for over two weeks post-recall, which is one part confusing and one part infuriating.

In total 636,416 bottles are marked as recalled. However, as the report by the Miami Herald notes, it’s unclear if that’s the total number of bottles across all scents or the estimate of the number of bottles of each individual scent. Again, this is where a recall bulletin posted on the company’s own website would go a long way toward answering questions and keeping consumers informed.

As for the bacteria itself, Burkholderia cepacia is not typically a serious issue if a person is perfectly healthy. It can produce respiratory infections and, if a person already has a compromised respiratory system due to smoking or underlying health issues, it can become serious in a hurry. Symptoms can include fever and chills, swelling, and general pain. The most common source of bacteria in cases of human infection is contaminated medical products. In this case, soap sold at Walmart was the culprit.

If you have any of this soap in your home, check the recall postings and compare the product codes to see if the bottle or bottles you have are included in the recall. If they are, throw them out and reach out to the company for a refund.

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