UPDATE: On Oct. 16, 2020, two Cottonelle flushable wipes users filed a class action lawsuit after Kimberly-Clark recalled some of the product due to possible bacterial contamination.
Kimberly-Clark has issued a Cottonelle Flushable Wipes recall over concerns that two varieties of the wipes could be contaminated with bacteria.
The products affected by the recall are Cottonelle Flushable Wipes and Cottonelle and GentlePlus Flushable Wipes, according to the recall notice on Cottonelle’s website.
The Cottonelle Flushable Wipes recall affects products sold throughout the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean, and is limited to specific lots manufactured between Feb. 7, 2020, and Sept. 14, 2020.
No other Cottonelle products are affected by the recall, according to the company. Products not included in the Cottonelle Flushable Wipes recall are safe to use.
The company says the products could show the presence of Pluralibacter gergoviae, a naturally occurring bacterium that lives in the environment as well as the human body.
While it’s rare for Pluralibacter gergoviae to cause a serious infection in healthy people, those with weakened immune systems are at a greater risk of infection.
So far, the company has only received what it calls a “low rate of non-serious complaints, such as irritation and minor infection.”
According to Self, Kimberly-Clark points out this bacteria is not related to COVID-19, and so consumers are not at risk of contracting coronavirus from the products affected by the Cottonelle Flushable Wipes recall.
Wipes such as those involved in the Cottonelle Flushable Wipes recall became more popular early in the coronavirus pandemic outbreak as consumers stockpiled toilet paper and other household goods, causing short supply in stores around the country, USA Today reported.
Self points out that wet wipes can cause irritation even in the absence of bacterial contamination. Related symptoms include itching, dermatitis or skin inflammation.
And according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), flushable wipes can wreak havoc on plumbing and septic systems as well as the environment.
In fact, municipalities have gone so far as to ask people to stop buying the wipes altogether.
In Evansville, Wisconsin, sewage workers have requested that consumers stop using the wipes because they allegedly do not dissolve easily and clog the sewer system.
They say human waste and toilet paper are the only things that should ever be flushed because the sewage system is not designed to handle other materials. In addition, the Evansville Public Works Department started a “No Wipes Down the Pipes” campaign in an effort to moist disposable wipes out of the sewer system.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also has taken an interest in the damage caused by flushable wipes.
The FTC and Nice-Pak, which manufactures similar wipes for Target, CVS, and other brands, have agreed to no longer advertise the wipes as flushable without evidence that the product will break down shortly after being flushed.
While Nice-Pak says the agreement only covers a discontinued product, the FTC claims it will help prevent consumers from having to fix clogged toilets and repair other damage.
Consumers wondering if the Cottonelle Flushable Wipes recall affects a product they purchased can check the lot number by visiting the Cottonelle website.
The lot code, lot number and lot designator appear on the bottom of the product package.
The company says there is no need to return the product to a store, and consumers should instead contact customer service.
Those who have submitted a request for reimbursement should receive it in three to six weeks.
Consumers may contact Kimberly-Clark consumer service at 1-800-414-0165 between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. Central Monday through Friday, or 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
They also can contact the company about the Cottonelle Flushable Wipes recall by using the online contact form on the website.
Have you purchased one of the lots affected by the Cottonelle Flushable Wipes recall? Tell us what you think in the comments.
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