*** Updated Tuesday 27 May: Another recall of clothing dyed with potentially hazardous azo dyes has been announced.
It relates to Pacific Brands' Mossimo "Joker" and "Tyler" boys' jackets sold between March and May 2014. Customers who have this jacket should stop wearing it immediately and return it to for a full refund. For more information on this, head to recalls.gov.au or call 1800 633 185.
** Updated Tuesday 13 May: The ACCC testing for clothing dyed with potentially hazardous azo dyes has seen further recalls today from Just Jeans and two more jeans styles from retailer Rivers. More than 166,000 items have now been recalled for having unacceptable concentrations of certain azo dyes.
Dyes linked to cancer
"The ACCC testing uncovered a number of products that we made using an Azo dye, a chemical linked to cancer. Although the risk to consumers is very low any avoidable risk should be managed responsibly, therefore the ACCC has negotiated recalls of all affected products," ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
Myer and Target have already conducted voluntary recalls on clothing that has been found to have fabric dyed with the hazardous azo dyes. Target has issued a recall for various lines of kids', babies' and ladies' denim jeans while Myer is recalling two lines of boys jeans after the dyes were detected in the pocket lining of the "Milkshake" and "Wayne Jnr" brands.
Azo dyes and colourants are often used in the colouring process for textiles and leather products. Some azo colouring agents may form amines (breakdown products) that may have carcinogenic and mutagenic (an agent-changing genetic material) properties, as CHOICE discovered in a recent investigation.
No ban in Australia
Currently there is strong regulation in place in the EU with regard to chemicals in textiles and footwear, as well as restrictions in the US. But in Australia, there are very few barriers in place.
A Myer spokeswoman told CHOICE that the suppliers have been contacted and told that use of the dye in Myer products is banned. However, the retailer is frustrated by the lack of clarity around legislation. "The Australian government has not legislated to ban azo dyes, and it would assist the industry if the government could clarify its position." the spokeswoman said.
In March, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) conducted a recall of two styles of children's jeans from Rivers Australia, one style of kids' jeans and one style of denim shorts from Just Jeans, and a pillow case from Pillow Talk, all of which may contain potentially harmful azo dyes.
Independent Senator for South Australia, Nick Xenophon, has called on the ACCC to block imports of dangerous chemicals in clothing following the recall. The senator also called for an urgent audit of garment and bedding imports, saying it's "astonishing that there appear to be no laws or rules in place to restrict the importation of products containing azo dyes".
Consumers who have have bought any of these jeans in store or online should stop wearing them and may return the garment to the store for a full refund of the purchase price.
For more information on the recalls - head to the ACCC.